Jeff Atwater, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer (“CFO”), announced that Wellington resident, Richard Incandela, was convicted of defrauding two Tampa senior citizens out of nearly $490,000. Incandela was sentenced to 34 months in prison to be followed by 25 years’ probation. In addition, he was ordered to pay full restitution to the victims.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, Incandela met the elderly couple at a Tampa-area church. The couple told Incandela that they wanted to find a way to make sure their mentally handicapped grandson would be cared for after their deaths. According to investigators, Incandela proposed that the couple buy life insurance policies that would later be sold in a Stranger-Originated Life Insurance (“STOLI”) transaction, also known as a life settlement. STOLI and life settlement transactions are financial transactions in which the owner of a life insurance policy sells an existing policy to a third-party for an amount that is more than the policy’s cash value but less than its face value. The couple told Florida investigators that they did business with Incandela, in part, because they believed he was a fellow Christian.
Investigations conducted by the Florida Department of Financial Services’ Insurance Fraud and Agent and Agency Services divisions found that between December 2007 and September 2009, the Tampa couple gave Incandela $489,426 for what they believed were insurance premiums. According to investigators, no insurance policies were ever obtained and the monies were kept by Incandela for his own personal use. CFO Atwater confirmed that Incandela has never been licensed to sell insurance in Florida. Incandela was arrested and charged with fraud and selling insurance without a license in 2010.
According to InvestmentNews and the Sun-Sentinel, Incandela has been accused of perpetrating similar schemes on other Christian-based targets including a Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, a YMCA in Pennsylvania, a Christian college in Oklahoma City, and a Christian school in Milwaukee.
Earlier this year, Florida launched On Guard for Seniors, a website that provides information and tips to help seniors and their caregivers fend off fraud. The website contains explanatory information on various insurance and investment products such as annuities, reverse mortgages, long-term care insurance and contains real-life stories of other seniors who were victims of insurance or financial schemes. The site also contains information to alert consumers to popular frauds and scams and information on where to turn if a consumer feels they have been victimized by a financial or insurance related scheme.