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Insurance agent fined $140,000, has license revoked

By Staff | Feb 10, 2015

A Fort Myers insurance agent was fined and had his license revoked by the Department of Financial Services after officials say he bilked “several” of his clients

The agency revoked Gregory Sample’s license “after an investigation revealed that Sample engaged in unethical and illegal business practices that ultimately duped several of his clients, most of whom are seniors, to lose money from their annuity contracts,” a release from the department states.

In addition to having his license revoked, the action renders Sample “permanently barred from both direct and indirect participation of any kind in the insurance industry” and requires him to pay a $140,000 fine.

“Insurance scams are far too common, often targeting seniors. The vast majority of agents are honest, but there are some who manipulate products and sales pitches in their favor,” said Greg Thomas, director of the Division of Agents & Agency Services, in the statement. “Agents may have a financial incentive when they make a sale. Our division works to hold insurance agents in our state accountable and protect consumers.”

The investigation, conducted by the Division of Agent & Agency Services, addressed allegations that Sample made false statements on annuity documents and during the negotiation of annuity sales, and recommended unsuitable annuity exchange transactions to clients of his Fort Myers financial services business.

“By preying on the trusting nature of seniors, including offering luncheon seminars, Sample’s clients were deceived into believing they were making sound financial decisions, when in actuality, the only person profiting off the transactions was Sample himself. The Division of Administrative Hearings determined that he made willful misrepresentations and is not trustworthy,” the release states.

Sample has appealed the ruling. He could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday.

According to the statement, Sample’s alleged schemes include:

Knowingly misleading an elderly female consumer regarding applicable charges associated to the surrender of an annuity contract, causing the consumer to incur several thousands of dollars in fines and fees, and ultimately causing the consumer to lose more than $70,000 in death benefit funds the consumer had set aside specifically as inheritance funds for her granddaughter. By doing so, Sample profited personally from commissions he obtained.

In three unrelated instances, Sample convinced two Florida couples and a single elderly woman to sign blank or incomplete forms, which he later filled in with false information. By willfully misrepresenting the couples’ available assets and discretionary income, Sample was able to pass the applicable underwriting standards and receive a commission from the sale of those annuities that were not justly issued.

The affected clients were from Naples and Sebring, officials said.

The Department has and will continue to work with the consumers and companies involved to ensure that the consumers are made whole after their tragic ordeals, the release states. The Department reminds all annuity purchasers to carefully review applications and forms to ensure the forms are fully and accurately completed before signing them. Any consumer who feels they have been misled or deceived by an agent’s action may contact the Department by calling the Consumer Insurance Helpline at 1-877-6935236.

Source: Florida Department of Financial Services