CFO Atwater Announces Arrest of Orange County Insurance Agent for Stealing More Than One Million Dollars of Client Funds
Contact: Chris Cate
(850) 413- 2842
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater today announced the arrest of Orange County insurance agent Mario Ferreri, 60, for defrauding clients of his financial services company, Financial Management Resources, out of more than $1 million in life insurance premium payments.
“Families work their whole lives to build a nest egg and it is unthinkable for someone to steal that hard-earned money under the guise of helping them,” said CFO Atwater. “I won’t allow this type of fraud in our state, and I will not tolerate such unethical conduct from an agent whose primary task is to properly manage clients’ finances.”
An investigation conducted by the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud discovered that between July 2009 and March 2014 Ferreri stole more than $750,000 from one client’s life insurance premium payments and an additional $427,000 from another client. Once he gained their trust, Ferreri persuaded both clients to write their insurance premium checks payable to his company instead of their respective insurance companies, claiming that doing so would allow him to more effectively manage their investments.
In order to conceal the theft, Ferreri changed the mailing address associated with both clients’ policies to reflect his own address, so they would not receive mail from their carriers indicating that payments were not being received. In both cases, Ferreri succeeded until they contacted their carriers to inquire about their policies, which were lapsed due to a lack of payment. Banking records obtained as part of the investigation show that Ferreri was depositing the checks into his own account for personal use.
Ferreri’s bond was set at $1 million. He faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted. The case will be prosecuted by the Orange County State Attorney’s Office. The Department’s Division of Agent & Agency Services permanently revoked his professional license.
Anyone with information about suspected insurance fraud is asked to call 1-800-378-0445. Citizens who provide tips can remain anonymous. The Department of Financial Services to date has awarded nearly $350,000 to nearly 60 citizens as part of its Anti-Fraud Reward Program. The program rewards individuals up to $25,000 for information that directly leads to an arrest and conviction in an insurance fraud scheme.
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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. Follow the activities of the department on Facebook (FLDFS) and Twitter (@FLDFS).