Agent Banned for Exploiting Elderly Jewish Florida Consumers

June 11, 2007

Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink has revoked the license of a south Florida agent and permanently banned him from the insurance business in Florida for using his insurance license to exploit elderly Jewish Floridians.

Leighton David Applefeld, 66, owned and operated Focus Financial Services Inc. in Delray Beach. In February, the Department of Financial Services filed an 18-count administrative complaint against Applefeld alleging, among other things, that he preyed on elderly Jewish consumers, through religious affinity, to engender their trust and sell them inappropriate insurance products that paid high commissions.

In lieu of fighting the administrative charges against him, Applefeld agreed to the revocation of his insurance license, and further agreed to be permanently banned from the insurance business in Florida.

Applefeld conducted seminars at local restaurants, Jewish centers, and various other locations throughout Broward and Palm Beach and misrepresented the annuity products he sold.

In many cases, Applefeld was able to convince clients to surrender or withdraw from their in-force annuities or investments to fund new deferred annuity contracts, resulting in thousands of dollars of unnecessary surrender charges and additional penalties that he didn’t explain to his elderly clients. In most cases, Applefeld’s clients didn’t realize the financial harm they suffered until it was too late.

In one instance, Applefeld convinced an elderly Jewish couple to give him checks totaling $180,000 to invest. Applefeld instructed the couple to make the checks payable to his Delray Beach business name rather than an insurance company, but he never invested the funds on behalf of his clients once the money was deposited into his business account.

Source: Florida Department of Financial Services

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