Volume 2 Number 20
May 16, 2005







Port Charlotte Mortgage Company Selling Unauthorized Annuity Contracts

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher announced the Money Tree Lending Group (Money Tree), of Port Charlotte, has been taken over pending a court hearing.  The move is a result of an Order to Show Cause handed down in addition to an order to seize the company.  This comes on the heels of a joint investigation by the Department of Financial Services, the Office of Insurance Regulation and the Office of Financial Regulation.

“I thank the court for taking such a proactive approach in this matter,” said Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services.  “Our interests are to simply safeguard investor assets until we can iron these matters out, and the court has been very helpful in our efforts.  Florida will continue to pursue unauthorized entities; we have seen too many people victimized by bogus insurance and investment products.” 

Judge Terry P. Lewis of the Second Judicial Circuit Court in Leon County ordered Money Tree to appear at a hearing in Tallahassee on June 10, 2005 to explain why it should not be placed in receivership.  Money Tree is authorized as a mortgage lender, however, the company was selling unauthorized annuity contracts and it is not licensed to conduct insurance business in Florida. 

Under the court’s order, the Department of Financial Services was directed to immediately seize all Money Tree property, bank accounts and records, in an effort to protect the company’s claimants and creditors.  A team from the Division of Rehabilitation and Liquidation is on site carrying out the order. 

Consumers with questions on this matter are directed to call the Division of Rehabilitation and Liquidation at (850) 413-4585.  Information will not be posted on the division’s website pending the June 10th hearing on the Order to Show Cause.   Floridians are urged to Verify Before they Buy insurance or investment products and those that offer to sell them by calling 1-800-342-2762 or go to www.MyFloridaCFO.com.  Make sure the agent, the product and the company are authorized.   

Lake County, the 43rd county,
was established  May 27, 1887, being taken from Orange and Sumter counties and named for the large number of lakes within its boundaries. The courthouse, above, was built in 1924.