CFO Jeff Atwater Prevails at Fourth District Court of Appeals Against Vero Beach Senior Scammer
Contact: Alexis Lambert
TALLAHASSEE—Florida CFO Jeff Atwater today announced that Mitchell Brian Storfer, 50, has been stripped of his insurance licenses for participating in an annuity scheme that generated more than $100,000 in commissions for him and his agency, Seniors Financial International, Inc. of Vero Beach. This follows a yearlong appeal by Storfer to the Fourth District Court of Appeals (DCA) that the Department’s Division of Legal Services successfully fought.
“Insurance companies have a responsibility to ensure that their agents maintain the highest standards in their sales practices, whether it’s involving the sales of annuities or any other products,” said CFO Atwater. “Florida seniors have worked hard to earn their money and we will continue to work hard to fight fraud and to keep the money in the pockets of citizens of all ages where it belongs.”
On March 19, 2010, Storfer’s license was revoked following a recommendation by an administrative law judge with the Division of Administrative Hearings. He appealed to the Fourth DCA and on April 7, 2010, the revocation was stayed which allowed him to continue transacting insurance under his license, with the exception that he could not market annuities to persons over the age of 55 during the appeal. Each of the members of the DCA’s three-judge panel agreed that the revocation should be upheld and denied his request for a rehearing on May 12.
In August 2008, Storfer convinced a senior couple from Vero Beach to replace several of their investments with two American Equity Bonus Gold annuities after earning their trust during two of his free seminars. When the numbers didn’t add up, the couple requested that Storfer not process the application, which he ignored, withdrawing thousands from the couple’s account. That’s when the Department’s Division of Agent and Agency Services stepped in, helping the couple reverse the transaction and recover their savings. Storfer also convinced at least two other seniors to surrender or transfer existing annuities, costing them more than $95,000 in penalties and generating Storfer more than $100,000 in commissions.
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official and officer of the Florida Cabinet, oversees the Department of Financial Services including the Division of Insurance Fraud. CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government, reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses, and providing transparency and accountability in spending.