Have You Been Accused of Annuities Fraud?
Annuity fraud is considered a serious crime, and a conviction may entail quite serious penalties. If you’re an insurance professional who is accused of annuities fraud in Southern California, you must reach out to a lawyer helping clients with annuities fraud as quickly as possible.
An annuity is a financial product that pays out a fixed payment stream over a predetermined amount of time to the investor. Annuities are offered by life insurance companies – and by banks and others with life insurance licenses – and are used primarily as an income stream for retirees.
Annuity fraud is on the rise across the United States. If an annuity is sold under false pretenses, or if an annuity was recommended even though it was clearly not right for the investor, the individual or business that sold the annuity may be charged with annuity fraud.
If you have sold annuities and you have been charged with annuities fraud – or if that happens in the future – what steps will you need to take? When should you contact a California annuities fraud defense lawyer? Keep reading for the answers you may need.
How Extensive is Annuities Fraud?
Parties that offer annuities must comply with federal and state laws and may not deceive or mislead investors to induce them to purchase annuities. If a seller misrepresents or omits information about an annuity, that omission or misrepresentation may constitute annuities fraud.
In May, a jury in Florida convicted Phillip Roy Wasserman, a licensed insurance agent, of defrauding senior citizen investors with his “FastLife” life insurance products. Wasserman reportedly sold seniors $6.3 million of fraudulent life insurance and annuity products.
In another case, the Kansas-based Security Benefit Life Insurance Company is facing a class action lawsuit that claims that investors were misled into believing that annuities the company sold offered above-market returns when the products in fact limited returns for investors.
These are only two of the dozens of annuities fraud cases now making news across the U.S. When you consider whether or not to buy an annuity, it is extremely important to do your “due diligence” and to take appropriate precautions in order to make the decision that is right for you.
What Constitutes Annuities Fraud?
Because commission rates for annuities sales are usually higher than the commission rates for other financial products, some insurance companies and agents try to sell annuities to all of their customers, whether or not an annuity is the right product for an individual customer.
If a state or federal prosecutor brings a criminal charge against an agent or agency for annuities fraud, that prosecutor does not have to prove that an investor relied on omitted or misrepresented information before buying the annuity or even that an investor suffered actual economic losses.
What is Material Information?
To convict a defendant of annuities fraud, a prosecutor needs only to prove that there was an intentional omission or misrepresentation of “material” information and that the omission or misrepresentation was knowingly designed to entice investors to make a bad investment.
What is material information? It’s what an investor should know before buying an annuity: the risks involved with buying the annuity, the seller’s business and financial situation, the commissions, fees, and any other important details that pertain to the annuity sale.
If You Are Charged With Annuities Fraud
If you are charged with annuities fraud or with insurance fraud in Southern California, you must be defended and advised by an Orange County annuities fraud defense attorney who has substantial experience dealing with annuities fraud and insurance fraud investigations.
To convict you of annuities fraud, a prosecutor must prove that you had criminal intent and that you knowingly meant to defraud the victim. Proving your intentions, however, may not be easy, and your defense lawyer will cast doubt on the government’s case and the evidence against you.
That’s if your case goes to trial, but if the evidence against you is substantial and your conviction for annuities fraud is certain, your lawyer may seek to negotiate a plea bargain. If you accept a plea bargain, you would probably plead guilty to a lesser charge and serve a reduced sentence.
How Will Your Attorney Defend You?
You should almost always adhere to your defense attorney’s advice. If you’re offered a plea bargain, discuss its terms and conditions with your defense attorney before you accept or reject the offer and before you make any other decision regarding your annuities fraud case.
However, if you’re innocent, and if the charge cannot be dropped or dismissed, in most cases, you should insist on a jury trial.
If you’re being investigated for annuities fraud, a California annuities fraud defense lawyer can negotiate with a prosecutor on your behalf before a charge is filed. If your attorney’s intervention is successful, in the best-case scenario, you might not even be charged.
What Are the Defenses to an Annuities Fraud Charge?
If an annuities fraud charge is filed against you, your attorney will probably seek to have the prosecutor drop the charge or file a request with the court to dismiss the charge. However, if the case moves forward, your attorney may offer one or several of the following defenses:
- No annuities fraud happened, and the charge has been fabricated.
- No annuities fraud happened, and the charge arises from a misunderstanding or a mistake.
- Someone else perpetrated the fraud, and you’re not the person who should be charged.
- The evidence of your guilt is insufficient to prove that you committed annuities fraud.
- You lacked any criminal intent, and you didn’t mean to defraud anyone.
Your attorney will review the evidence, speak with any witnesses, answer your legal questions, and protect your legal rights. If your annuities fraud case goes to trial, the right attorney will defend you aggressively and effectively and bring the case to its best possible outcome.
How Do You Select the Right Attorney?
Fraud cases are prosecuted aggressively in California. If the charge against you is annuities fraud, you must be advised and represented by a skilled and knowledgeable California fraud attorney.
With over twenty-five years of legal experience, California defense attorney Diane C. Bass has successfully advised and defended those charged with white-collar crimes – including annuities fraud – in both federal and state courts. In Orange County and throughout the State of California, attorney Diane C. Bass produces the results her clients need.
She will provide your initial case evaluation without cost or obligation. If you’re charged with (or being investigated for) annuities fraud, now or in the future, immediately contact the offices of defense attorney Diane C. Bass by calling 949-577-8368.