S. Fla. Insurance Agent Arrested for Bilking His Elderly Clients

December 22, 2005

A South Florida insurance agent, Thomas A. Masciarelli, was arrested Tuesday by state insurance fraud detectives for bilking elderly clients in an unregistered securities scheme.

Masciarelli, 48, was charged with three counts of grand theft and booked into the Palm Beach County Jail. He allegedly stole some $300,000 from three investors, a 58-year-old woman supporting a disabled adult daughter, an 82-year-old woman with no family, and an 80-year-old man suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Masciarelli could face up to 60 years in prison if convicted on the charges.

Florida CFO Tom Gallagher has also filed an administrative complaint and is seeking revocation of the agent’s license.

Masciarelli would develop strong friendships with seniors to get them to invest and encourage them to recruit other investors. Fraud detectives said that the 82-year-old woman considered him a son. Masciarelli also recruited potential investors through civic organizations, including the 80-year-old man he is charged with defrauding.

All three cases were nearly identical: Masciarelli would sell them fixed annuities from American Investors Life Insurance Company and then later advise that their investments were not doing well. He would convince them to cash out the AILIC annuities and buy investments purportedly offered through his own company, Palm Beach Financial Services, Inc. However, detectives said Masciarelli did not invest the funds but instead used the money for personal and other expenses.

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