Fla. Agent Charged with Exploitation of Elderly Resident

March 26, 2003

A South Florida insurance agent is facing possible suspension or revocation of her license following charges from the Department of Financial Services that she abused her position as an agent in order to deceive an elderly person.

Following an investigation by the Bureau of Agent and Agency Investigation the department filed an administrative complaint against Anita Iris Perlis, charging her with misappropriation of insurance funds, misrepresenting annuity contracts, churning, twisting, violating her fiduciary responsibility, and naming herself as beneficiary on a client’s insurance contract.

Investigators say Perlis allegedly misrepresented to an elderly client insurance policy surrender charges and withdrawal penalties on transactions that would generate significant commissions for her. It is further alleged that Perlis fraudulently represented to her client that it would be in the client’s best interest to cancel the insurance from one carrier and purchase new insurance from another company, a practice known as twisting.

In addition, investigators say Perlis reportedly deceptively drained the value of her customer’s original policies by using accumulated cash value to buy other policies from the same company that promised to be of higher value, employing a practice known as churning. In less than three years, her client’s original investment of $190,000 was reduced to nearly $30,000, due to withdrawals, withdrawal penalties and surrender charges.

Finally, it is alleged that Perlis transferred her client’s funds into her own personal checking account and that she convinced her client to give her power of attorney over her client’s financial matters.

Perlis faces the suspension or revocation of her license and may face additional administrative fines. Perlis has requested a hearing before a state administrative law judge regarding these charges.

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