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Jacksonville Insurance Agent Sentenced to Three Years in Prison, $366,000 in Restitution for Swindling Senior Citizens

5/17/2005

CONTACT: Nina Banister
(850) 413-2842
 
JACKSONVILLE—An insurance agent is facing three years in prison and has been ordered to pay more than $366,000 in restitution after he convinced at least six elderly clients to cash in their annuities and reinvest in other insurance products, but instead he used the proceeds for his personal benefit.  Two of the victims, who ranged in age from 68 to 79, have since died.
 
Thomas Larry Griggs, 48, operated Griggs Financial Services in Jacksonville and was a licensed insurance agent.  On April 28, Fourth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Michael Weatherby handed down the sentence on a first-degree felony charge of schemes to defraud, based on an investigation by the Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud.  The restitution was ordered in a separate proceeding on May 5.
 
"This individual rates among the lowest of the lowest in my book," said Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services.  "His clients trusted him to look after their best interest, and he betrayed that trust.  We will continue to pursue those who prey on our citizens with all the means at our disposal, and I thank everyone who helped bring this agent to justice."
 
Griggs persuaded several elderly victims to surrender their annuities to reinvest into other insurance products sold by Griggs.  But insurance fraud detectives determined that once Griggs received the surrender proceeds from the annuities, he converted the monies to his own personal use.  In total, Griggs defrauded at least six victims out of $366,829.07.  Allianz Life Insurance Company and U.S. Financial Life Insurance Company provided reimbursement to some of the victims, because Griggs was contracted with them to sell their insurance products to the victims.
 
The fraud division's investigation was based on referrals from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and the department's Division of Agent and Agency Services, Bureau of Investigations. The department will seek revocation of his insurance agent's license based on the conviction.
 
The Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud, investigates various forms of fraud in insurance, including health, life, auto, property and workers' compensation insurance.  Anyone with information about this case or another possible fraud scheme should call the department's Fraud Hotline at 1-800-378-0445.  A reward of up to $25,000 may be offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction.