5 ARRESTED IN SCHEME THAT DEFRAUDED
HUNDREDS OF SENIORS
Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom
Gallagher and Attorney General Charlie Crist today announced the arrests of five
south Florida residents on charges that they systematically defrauded hundreds
of senior citizens in an organized scheme that netted more than $2 million in
fraudulent insurance sales commissions.
Brian Lee Shechtman, 37, of
Hollywood; Dean Allen Shechtman, 36, of Aventura; Brad Howard Shechtman, 33, of
Miramar; Camille Martinez Shechtman, 30, of Miramar; and Rosemary O’Rourke
Welstead, 61, of Ft. Lauderdale, are charged with racketeering and multiple
counts of insurance fraud, money laundering and grand theft. Brad and Camille
Shechtman were booked into the Marion County Jail. The three others were booked
into the Broward County Jail.
investigators with the Department of Financial Services, which Gallagher
oversees, said licensed insurance agents were recruited to gain the trust of
victims between the ages 70 and 94. Promising to save them money on their
health insurance, the agents instead “slid” them life insurance applications.
The sale of whole life insurance policies can net larger commissions.
“These people preyed on
senior citizens who needed help in making ends meet,” Gallagher said. “It is
unconscionable that these individuals devised such an intricate scheme to take
advantage of more than a thousand of our most vulnerable citizens.”
When the elderly victims
learned they had purchased a whole life policy, investigators said, they were
instructed to call Welstead. Instead of receiving assistance, they were sent to
another agent who maintained the scheme.
“For many of the victims,”
Gallagher said, “the cycle would repeat itself over and over.”
“There are few crimes more
despicable than scamming seniors who are trying to make important choices,” said
Crist. “Our prosecutors are pleased to be working with the Chief Financial
Officer's team to seek justice for these victims.”
Pioneer Life Insurance
Company, one of the insurance companies with whom some agents were appointed,
has refunded over $1 million to its customers.
Welstead and the Shechtmans,
except for Brian Shechtman, have had their insurance agent licenses revoked.
Brian Shechtman is prohibited from selling any new policies while his
administrative complaint is pending.
Brad Shechtman had his
insurance license revoked in 1992 after he pleaded no contest to charges of
felony grand theft and financial exploitation of the elderly. He was sentenced
to five years’ probation.
Camille Martinez Shechtman’s
license was revoked in 1999 and Dean Allen Shechtman’s license was revoked in
2003 for fraudulent sales of life insurance to the elderly. At the time, the two
were selling policies for Elder Care Insurance Services, owned by Brian
Shechtman. Investigators said they traced more than $1 million dollars in
illicit life insurance proceeds to Brian Shechtman’s brokerage accounts.
Welstead’s license was
revoked in September 2003 for fraudulent sales of life insurance to the elderly.
Investigators said that
after losing their agent licenses, the group recruited licensed agents, friends
and acquaintances, and even paid for tutors and insurance school tuition for
recruits who were not already licensed. Some were paid a weekly salary in
return for signing the fraudulent life insurance applications.
Three agents recruited into
the scheme have already lost their licenses.
The licenses of Mark
Mittleman and Jay Steven Goldman were revoked in 2002 for allowing Dean
Shechtman to transact insurance using their licenses and for sharing their
commissions with him.
Gregory O'Connor’s license
was revoked in December 2001 for fraudulent sale of life insurance to the
The department’s Division of
Insurance Fraud and Division of Agent and Agency Services, Bureau of
Investigations, conducted the investigation jointly. The Attorney General’s
Office of Statewide Prosecution is prosecuting the charges.
The department offers a
reward of up to $25,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction in
complex insurance fraud schemes. Information can be provided anonymously. To
report insurance fraud, call 1-800-378-0445.