GALLAGHER BANS AGENT WHO TOOK FUNDS FROM TITLE ESCROW ACCOUNTS
Tom Gallagher, Florida’s chief financial officer, announced the revocation
of the license of a Lake County title insurance agency, 1st Land Title
Services, and the license of an agent who misappropriated funds from the
agency’s escrow accounts.
Gallagher’s order revoked the title insurance license of Portia Lynne
Rodriguez, 57, of Mt. Dora, and permanently banned her from transacting
insurance in Florida. Rodriguez had been a licensed title insurance agent in
Florida since 1993 and was president of 1st Land Title Services, which had
offices in Tavares, Leesburg, Summerfield and Mt. Dora.
“This department is determined to ensure that no one takes advantage of our
citizens,” Gallagher said. “Having an agent’s license is an opportunity to
serve, not an opportunity to steal.”
The actions against Rodriguez’ license followed a department investigation
that uncovered more than $613,000 missing from an escrow account. The
investigation began after reports of checks being returned to the agency for
insufficient funds. Affected customers were reimbursed by the title
Title insurance is required by mortgage lenders to protect themselves and
the homebuyer from property ownership disputes. Last September, in an
unrelated matter, Gallagher announced that approximately 10,000 Central
Florida residents would share a $2.2 million refund agreed to by Fidelity
National Title Insurance Company after a department investigation uncovered
illegal referrals to title agencies for business.
Gallagher issued a warning to the industry in 2004 against engaging in
illegal kickback arrangements, and initiated investigations into all title
agencies for similar practices. Fidelity National Insurance Company was the
first to reach a settlement with the department.
To file a complaint, visit the Department of Financial Services web site at
www.MyFloridaCFO.com or call the toll-free consumer helpline at 1-800-342-2762.