In the pantheon of dirtbag activities, ripping off senior citizens is right at the top of the list.
This week's Rogue, Brandon Caselman, 28, until recently a Portland insurance agent who worked for Bankers Life and Casualty, took advantage of 82-year-old Eugenia B. Wait of Beaverton and 77-year-old Ignatius Vander Zanden of Portland, according to the Oregon Insurance Division.
And he did so repeatedly.
His punishment came this week when the Insurance Division canceled Caselman's license for fleecing Wait back in March 2005.
During that month, according to division records, Caselman four times advised Wait to put nearly all of her money into an annuity. For those unfamiliar with insurance
offerings, an annuity is a product designed to provide an investor income over a long period of time.
Annuities also earn big commissions for agents.
"Annuities are the most lucrative products for agents," says Dale White, the Insurance Division's chief investigator.
Caselman's advice contains several problems. At age 82, Wait was unlikely to live as long as typical annuity buyers, who are decades younger.
Second, the annuity policy had a cash surrender period of 10 years—about two years longer than Wait's life expectancy, according to the Insurance Division. Cash surrender is the accumulated cash value in a policy if its holder decides to cancel it — and a 10-year period meant she could not get her original investment back for a decade. And she was likely to need the $1.1 million.
Caselman persuaded her to invest in three separate annuities.
"The total amount deposited into the annuities was about 87 percent of Wait's liquid assets, which caused her to not have access to sufficient liquid financial resources to pay for increased anticipated expenses and unanticipated expenses," says Insurance Division director Teresa Miller in a June 1 order revoking Caselman's license. (Caselman actually treated Vander Zanden even worse, selling him $162,000 worth of annuities, amounting to all his liquid assets.)
Thus Wait—a wealthy woman by most standards—struggled to put food on her table while Caselman raked in hefty commissions.
White declined to say how much of Wait's money Caselman pocketed, characterizing the commissions only as "large."
Caselman stipulated to the Insurance Division version of events and surrendered his license.
"Both cases happened in the first five months of my career," Caselman says. "I didn't know everything I should have. Thankfully, those clients got their money back."