snared in undercover operation
South Florida man is facing charges of selling insurance without a license
after he attempted to sell an annuity to an undercover Department of
Financial Services’ investigator.
Eric Brown, 37, of
Highland Beach, was arrested Tuesday on charges of three counts each of
selling insurance without a license and violating a department order
following an investigation by the department’s Division of Insurance Fraud
(DIF). If convicted on all of the charges, Brown faces up to 30 years in
prison in addition to fines and restitution. The department’s Division of
Legal Services previously revoked Brown’s agent license in January 2006 for
allegedly misleading senior citizens in the sale of annuities.
“This man knowingly
violated the law and put consumers at risk, and we will not tolerate that,”
said Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who oversees the
department. “We want consumers to know that we have made it easy for them
to check the license of any insurance agent or company, and we strongly
recommend that they do so before every transaction.”
To verify a license,
consumers can call 1-800-342-2762 or log on to
www.MyFloridaCFO.com and click on “Verify Before you Buy” to check various
insurance and financial licenses, or click directly on “Check out your
insurance agent” or “Look up your insurance company.” Consumers can also
file a complaint or report suspected fraud on the department’s web page or
via the toll-free helpline at 1-800-342-2762.
The arrest stems from a
joint investigation between DIF and the Division of Agent and Agency
Services’ Bureau of Investigations. The investigation began when Bureau
Investigator Sara Dwyer contacted DIF with suspicions that Brown was selling
insurance without a license. Working with DIF, Dwyer attended a seminar
sponsored by Retirement Solutions, held March 21 at a Boynton Beach
restaurant. At the seminar, Brown identified himself as an accountant and
office manager for Retirement Solutions, located at 1903 S. Congress Ave.
#396, and, following a presentation on various products, offered Dwyer and
other participants a free one-hour consultation in his office.
Working with DIF
Detective Stacey Spirn, Dwyer made a controlled call to Brown and set up a
meeting for April 3, and Dwyer attended wearing a recording device. Another
meeting was scheduled for April 12 and, again wearing a recording device,
Dwyer met with Brown and he allegedly recommended that Dwyer move an
existing annuity into SunAmerica/AIG. When Dwyer agreed, Steve Effron, a
licensed agent, joined them with an application. Brown told Effron what had
been discussed and, with no additional recommendations, Effron began
completing the contract. At that point, Dwyer walked away and Det. Spirn
walked in and advised Brown that he could not continue the transaction with
a revoked license.