A federal jury has discovered a Sarasota insurance coverage agent and monetary advisor responsible of defrauding aged Floridians out of $6 million, cash that the victims believed was going to fund a life insurance coverage startup generally known as FastLife.
Phillip Roy Wasserman, 66, who can be a former lawyer, was convicted of wire fraud and mail fraud costs within the long-running deceit, which prosecutors stated labored like a Ponzi scheme. At one level, the FastLife enterprise employed baseball legend Pete Rose and nation music star Billy Ray Cyrus to promote the rapid-quote insurance coverage product on radio and tv, and it grew quickly within the years earlier than it was investigated.
As an alternative of utilizing the sufferer’s cash to put money into the FastLife product, Wasserman used a lot of the proceeds to buy a house, a seaside home, Tampa Bay Lightning hockey season tickets, his personal insurance coverage protection, and different private gadgets, in keeping with the U.S. Legal professional and the 2020 indictment.
In an interview with Insurance coverage Journal Tuesday, Wasserman stated he didn’t use the cash for private achieve and provided an accounting report that he stated confirms that. He argued that the prosecution was politically motivated and resulted from his years of advocating publicly for annuities to be classed as non-securities. He additionally was recognized for Florida Bar disciplinary actions within the Nineteen Nineties, wherein he was accused of calling a choose a “criminal.”
“It doesn’t pay to have an enormous mouth,” Wasserman stated.
Co-defendant Kenneth Rossman, additionally an insurance coverage agent and a licensed public accountant in Bradenton, pleaded responsible in 2021. His sentencing is about for June 8.
The FastLife product was described on Wasserman’s Linkedin web page as a “loopy quick” manner for folks to buy life insurance coverage from “extremely rated insurance coverage corporations.” Traders have been assured an annual return of 10% to 12%.
However prosecutors and the jury stated it was largely a rip-off.
“Some victim-investors have been persuaded to liquidate conventional investments akin to annuities and/or to borrow funds towards current life insurance coverage insurance policies to generate money to put money into the enterprise,” U.S. Legal professional Roger Handberg stated in a press launch. “These victim-investors weren’t advised about give up charges and different prices related to stated liquidations, or about detrimental private tax penalties ensuing from liquidations.”
Wasserman paid Rossman a share of the investments as compensation for his function within the conspiracy. Wasserman additionally used the cash to pay earlier traders within the FastLife enterprise, and to pay collectors, prosecutors stated.
Wasserman, who referred to as himself the “King of Annuities” and a high coach of insurance coverage brokers, additionally took steps to evade greater than $900,000 in federal revenue taxes and tried to steer witnesses and victims to keep away from cooperating with investigators, Handberg stated. Wasserman failed to tell the traders that he and Rossman had quite a few excellent tax liens and civil judgments towards them associated to earlier funding applications, in addition to unpaid loans, evictions for unpaid lease, giant quantities of enterprise debt, and that he was paying himself “an extravagant quantity of compensation” – greater than $35,000 a month, the indictment reads.
Wasserman represented himself in a part of the legal proceedings. He now faces a separate trial on the federal tax evasion costs.
The person, who has written a guide about annuities, additionally didn’t pay totally for the companies of the celebrities he employed to pitch the insurance coverage product, the indictment famous. He additionally employed insurance coverage gross sales brokers and workplace employees however didn’t pay them in full.
Wasserman, now out on bond awaiting sentencing, might face years in jail and should forfeit $6.3 million. Handberg and the indictment didn’t point out how the fraud got here to mild, however stated it was investigated by the Inner Income Service and the Florida Workplace of Monetary Regulation.
Wasserman stated his troubles started within the early 2000s, when he helped lead the cost towards the U.S. Securities and Change Fee’s Rule 151A, which classed fixed-index annuities as securities. That may have required gross sales brokers to have securities licenses in addition to insurance coverage licenses. A federal court docket ordered the SEC to rethink the rule, and the company withdrew it in 2010.
The 303-page CPA report that Wasserman stated exonerated him was produced by a New Jersey accounting agency in February of this 12 months. It concluded that he was entitled to at the very least $1 million in compensation from the FastLife program. The report notes that the accountants relied on info offered by Wasserman and his legal professional, and didn’t have entry to some financial institution data.
Prosecutor Handberg stated in his information launch that the report was an effort to thwart the prosecution. “Wasserman falsely and fraudulently represented that he had an audit from a extremely regarded monetary companies agency that may present neither he nor FastLife had dedicated any wrongdoing,” the assertion stated.
Wasserman stated Handberg was mistaken. “Why would I’ve a forensic accounting report achieved if I although I used to be responsible?” he requested.
The Florida Division of Monetary Providers agent look-up website reveals that Rossman and Wasserman had been appointed by the years with a number of life insurance coverage corporations. Their licenses have been suspended, however the date of suspension will not be proven.
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