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CFO Sink Revokes License of Agent Who Was Misleading Seniors in Annuity Scam

5/27/2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 27, 2009  
CONTACT: Kyra Jennings or Jayme O’Rourke, (850) 413-2842
            

CFO SINK REVOKES LICENSE OF AGENT WHO WAS MISLEADING SENIORS IN ANNUITY SCAM

Revocation Underscores Need for CFO Sink’s Safeguard our Seniors Legislation
 
Tallahassee—As part of her ongoing Safeguard Our Seniors initiative, Florida CFO Alex Sink is revoking the license of a southwest Florida insurance agent who convinced a senior investor to surrender $70,000 in annuity policies and then placed the money into his own personal bank account. The situation underscores the need for CFO Sink’s Safeguard our Seniors legislation, which offers better financial protections for Florida’s seniors.
 
Shane D. Watkins, 37, formerly of Fort Myers, was arrested May 12 in North Carolina on a charge stemming from investigations by the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud, the Division of Agent and Agency Services, and the Division of Legal Services. In addition to license revocation, Watkins will be permanently banned from Florida’s insurance industry; if convicted, he faces up to 30 years in prison.
 
“Financial fraud has devastating consequences, especially for seniors who live on a fixed income,” said CFO Sink. “This is a perfect example of why I created the Safeguard our Seniors Task Force -- to develop solutions to better protect senior citizens from becoming victims of financial fraud.  I applaud the hard work of those in the Department of Financial Services who were able to stop this scam, and will continue to fight for tougher penalties against unscrupulous agents who prey on Florida’s seniors.”
 
Watkins allegedly convinced a senior over the age of 65 to surrender two annuity policies worth $70,000 and then advised the consumer that he would establish an investment account to provide a larger monthly income.  Watkins, who was associated with Bankers Life and Casualty Company, instead placed the funds acquired from the sale of the original annuities into his personal bank account.  When confronted by the victim, Watkins fled the state.
 
During the 2009 legislative session, CFO Sink pushed for Safeguard Our Seniors legislation  that increases the penalty for unscrupulous agents who defraud senior investors to a third degree felony and establishes better disclosures and protections upfront for seniors who invest in these products.  The legislation passed unanimously in the Florida Senate but was not heard in the Florida House.
 
Senior Floridians who believe they may have been the victim of annuity fraud should log on to www.MyFloridaCFO.com or call 1-877-My-FL-CFO.  For information on CFO Sink’s Safeguard Our Seniors Task Force and initiative, visit www.FLseniors.net.