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Insurance Agent Loses License, Must Pay $90,000 Fine


Nina Banister
(850) 413-2842
Misrepresentation and forgery earned agent thousands in commissions
ORLANDO—An insurance agent who misled at least 35 customers, including several senior citizens, in the sale of annuities and forged their signatures to cover his tracks has had his license revoked and has been ordered to pay a $90,000 fine.
Tom Gallagher, Florida's chief financial officer, last week ordered Clinton Mitchell Alford's insurance licenses revoked after a formal hearing ended with a Division of Administrative Hearings  judge recommending license revocation. The action follows Alford's arrest in August on one count of scheme to defraud, a first-degree felony, and one count of uttering a forged instrument, a third-degree felony.  He faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted on the criminal charges.
 "We will not tolerate anyone taking advantage of our citizens," said Gallagher, who oversees the department.  "This individual put Floridians at severe financial risk, and one elderly victim died before he had a chance to get his money back."
Alford, 37, of Louisville, Tennessee, was formerly employed with both Mercantile Bank in Orlando and UVEST Financial Services.  The department's Bureau of Investigation found that Alford had led at least 35 annuity customers to believe their surrender charge period – the period in which an annuity holder can be penalized for withdrawal of their investment – was much shorter than it actually was. Further, Alford told some customers that the guaranteed interest rate was higher than the actual rate.
To conceal his misrepresentations, Alford forged customer signatures and falsified documents sent to the carrier, Lincoln Benefit Life (LBL), as well as those returning to the consumer from LBL.  Alford earned commissions ranging from $1,300 to $36,000 on the sale of the annuities, earning well over $125,000 in commissions.  LBL agreed to honor the terms under which the customers thought they had bought the annuity products.
To report information about this or another possible insurance fraud scheme, call the department's Fraud Fighters hotline at 1-800-378-0445.  A reward of up to $25,000 may be offered for information leading to a conviction.
As a statewide elected officer of the Florida Cabinet, Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher oversees the Department of Financial Services, a multi-division state agency responsible for management of state funds and unclaimed property, assisting consumers who request information and help related to financial services, and investigating financial fraud. Gallagher also serves as the State Fire Marshal.