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CFO Atwater Announces Permanent Ban, Restitution Against Senior Swindler

6/7/2011

Contact: Alexis Lambert
850-413-2842

TALLAHASSEE—Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater today announced that he has permanently revoked the insurance licenses of John Daniel Mueller, 40, of Sarasota, for an annuity scheme that robbed tens of thousands of dollars from elderly Floridians, following an investigation by the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Agent and Agency Services.
 
“We must make certain that insurance agents who do business in this state maintain the highest standards in their sales practices.  Whether it’s selling annuities or any other products, we have a deep responsibility to protect Floridians—especially our elderly—from deceptive schemes like the one used in this case,” said CFO Jeff Atwater.
 
Mueller was investigated after the department received complaints that he sold unsuitable annuities to several elderly consumers. Mueller would drop in unexpectedly on unprepared elderly consumers and take advantage of their trust by misleading them using false statements or by leaving out important information regarding insurance products.
 
Between 2002 and 2008, at least five seniors lost more than $50,000 on investments that left them unable to pay needed medical and living expenses.  Many of Mueller’s victims shared common traits: they had limited investment experience; were elderly; had limited communication skills due either to a medical condition or being foreign-born; and readily signed their names to voluminous documents, mostly without reading them.
 
Many also had liquid assets or other annuities before meeting Mueller. As a result, they suffered hefty surrender penalties on the annuities they had held, in many cases only briefly, and were cashing out or exchanging for the annuity products Mueller sold them. They were misled into believing that such losses would be offset by "bonus" payments on the newly purchased annuities.
With the information uncovered in the investigation, the department’s Division of Legal Services sought the strictest action by permanently barring him from the insurance industry and ordering him to pay restitution.
 
Anyone who suspects they may be a victim of annuity fraud should log on to www.MyFloridaCFO.com or call the department’s Consumer Helpline at 850-413-3089 or 1-877-My-FL-CFO (877-693-5236).
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.