Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Annuity Scams

Here is another article on annuity scams. This also involves the living trust mill. It was reprinted with permission from the Athertonian which is a newsletter for Atherton residents.

Message from Your Police Department: Living Trust Investments

The Police Department would like to remind Atherton residents to be cautious about a crime industry specifically designed to exploit the financial insecurities of one of our most vulnerable populations – senior citizens.

The Department has received several complaints about companies offering free home meetings to discuss identity theft, Medicare issues and “Living Trusts.” The concern is that these companies might be trying to sell inappropriate financial investments for some seniors, namely annuities. These “Living Trusts Mills” use scare tactics to pressure seniors into investing into these annuities, even though these annuities may make the seniors’ savings inaccessible for 15 to 20 years, carry severe tax penalties, have exorbitant “surrender charges,” and create complicated estate problems after death. The representatives of these companies misrepresent themselves as experts in estate planning and identity theft. They gain the trust and confidence of the victim, and then misuse that trust to discover the extent of the client’s assets under the pretext of determining whether the client can benefit from the living trust.

Please be wary of any uninvited solicitations from people or companies you don’t know or trust. One such company, The Gentry Group, has been ordered to desist and refrain from advising people or selling securities in order to buy annuities until they have secured certificates authorizing them to conduct business as investment advisors in California. This has not stopped them from contacting citizens of Atherton and offering them a home visit.

If you would like to report an incident of an inappropriate solicitation of a senior regarding these “Living Trusts Mills,” please contact the Atherton Police Department at 688-6500.

For more information, please read the brochure from the Federal Trade Commission at:

Ignorance is Not Bliss!

Tony Bahu

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