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Plant City insurance agent charged with stealing $200,000 from elderly clients

A Plant City insurance agent and financial advisor will serve at least 21 months in prison on a charge she defrauded elderly clients of $200,000, officials say.

Paula Kampf Albertson, 53, made her own family the beneficiaries of her clients’ insurance benefits, state officials said. She was charged last week following an investigation by the state Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud.

Besides a prison term, she has agreed to accept permanent license termination and never accept profits from any practice of insurance, state records show. A sentencing date hasn’t been set.

“Fraud of any kind is intolerable, but it is especially repugnant when it involves taking advantage of the trust of Florida seniors,” state Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater said in a statement. “I applaud our investigators’ efforts to bring this woman to justice.”

In May 2011, Albertson, as president of Albertson’s Financial Group, changed the home address on a dying client’s annuity policy to her own home address, Atwater’s office said. Shortly afterward, she ordered a change of beneficiary form that named her husband and stepson, both licensed insurance agents with the Albertson Financial Group, as beneficiary and contingent beneficiary, officials said.

Within weeks, the client died, and to circumnavigate a Florida law prohibiting agents from being named beneficiaries on a client’s policy, Albertson lied, saying her husband and stepson were the client’s cousin and nephew, officials said.

One year later, another client was contacted by her insurance company regarding a nearly $50,000 cash surrender on her annuity account. In a sworn statement, the client said she had not requested the payout and that the signature on the check that was issued was not her own. An investigation revealed that Albertson changed her client’s home address to collect and fraudulently endorsed the check over to her company, officials said.

At least three additional victims have been identified, but the alleged crimes were so old that she couldn’t be prosecuted because of the statute of limitations, officials said.

Albertson, 709 Keysville Road East, was released from Hillsborough County Jail after posting $25,000 bail. No other arrests are expected in the case.

dnicholson@tampatrib.com

(813) 394-5103

Twitter: @dnicholsonTBO

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