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CFO Jeff Atwater Announces Arrest of Plant City Financial Advisor for Stealing $200,000 from Florida Seniors

9/26/2014

Contact: Chris Cate
(850) 413-2842
 
TALLAHASSEE – Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater today announced the arrest of Plant City financial advisor and insurance agent Paula Kampf Albertson for stealing $200,000 in insurance claims from her clients. An investigation by the Florida Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud revealed Albertson exploited her elderly clients by making Albertson’s own family the beneficiaries of her clients’ insurance benefits.
 
“Fraud of any kind is intolerable, but it is especially repugnant when it involves taking advantage of the trust of Florida seniors,” said CFO Atwater. “I applaud our investigators efforts to bring this woman to justice.”
 
In May of 2011, Albertson changed the home address on a dying client’s annuity policy to her own home address. Shortly after, she ordered a change of beneficiary form that named her husband and step-son, both licensed insurance agents with the Albertson Financial Group, as beneficiary and contingent beneficiary. Within weeks, the client passed away. After filing a death benefits claim, Albertson’s husband fraudulently collected more than $150,000. To circumnavigate a Florida law prohibiting agents from being named beneficiaries on a client’s policy, Albertson lied, saying her husband and step-son were the client’s cousin and nephew.
 
One year later, one of Albertson’s other clients was contacted by her insurance company regarding a nearly $50,000 cash surrender on her annuity account. In a sworn statement, the client indicated she had not requested the payout and that the signature on the resulting check was not her own. An investigation revealed that Albertson again changed her client’s home address to collect and fraudulently endorsed the check over to her company for personal gain. Since then, at least three additional victims have been identified, but the loss dates are beyond the statute of limitations.
 
In an effort to expedite professional licensure revocation processes, Albertson has agreed to a guilty plea of insurance fraud entailing a minimum 21 month prison sentence, immediate license termination and a prohibition on the acceptance of profits from any practice of insurance. 
 
Florida seniors seeking information and help to protect themselves from fraud can visit www.myfloridacfo.com/Safe. Operation S.A.F.E is a multi-division outreach initiative led by CFO Jeff Atwater and the Florida Department of Financial Services designed to Stop Adult Financial Exploitation by protecting Florida’s seniors from financial fraud and scams through education. Comprehensive scam and fraud prevention workshops are being held across the state to inform seniors on the many tactics scam artists use to steal their hard-earned money.
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Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official, oversees the Department of Financial Services. 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.