Volume 3 Number 23
June 5, 2006

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GALLAGHER FILES CHARGES AGAINST TWO SARASOTA AGENTS FOR MISLEADING ELDERLY IN HOME HEALTH CARE PLAN SALES

Tom Gallagher, Florida’s chief financial officer, announced that he has ordered two Sarasota agents to answer charges that they made “false and worthless promises” to dozens of elderly Floridians who thought they were buying a home health care services plan but paid nearly $200,000 for access to providers, yet never received any services.

James W. Crain, Jr., 40, director and president of Independent Living Home Care Membership Association, was ordered to immediately stop selling or collecting premiums for the home health care plan and, along with Michael D. Carll, 48, has 21 days to respond to an administrative complaint alleging that they defrauded elderly customers. The charges follow an investigation by the Department of Financial Services, Division of Agent and Agency Services’ Bureau of Investigation. If the charges are upheld, Crain and Carll face revocation of their insurance agent licenses. Gallagher said he will also seek restitution.

“It is unconscionable that anyone would take advantage of a senior citizen looking for help to enjoy their golden years and have peace of mind,” said Gallagher, who oversees the department and in the past three years has taken action against more than 110 agents for elder fraud. “We will continue to bring the full force of the law against unscrupulous agents and aggressively educate our seniors against these scams.”

The 44 victims, most in their 80s or 90s, suffered from various disabilities including diminished mental capacity. One 96-year-old victim is legally blind. Investigators said Crain and Carll convinced the seniors to buy the plan by misleading them into believing they were buying coverage for homemaker/companion services and home medical care services. However, the plan’s fine print indicates that they only bought “access” to providers and not coverage for homemaker/companion or home medical care services. The victims received no services at all.

The emergency order affects only the home health care plan being sold by Independent Living Home Care Membership Association, and not Crain’s other companies that also operate out of offices at 2477 Stickney Point Rd. in Sarasota. The other companies are International Life & Health Services, lnc.; Independent Life Home Care Agency, Inc.; International Life and Health Services of Manatee County, Inc.; and International Life and Health Services of Sarasota County, Inc.

To file a complaint, visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com or call the department’s toll-free consumer helpline at 1-800-342-2762.