OFIR Suspends Insurance License of West Michigan's American Benefit Concepts
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 13, 2011
Contact: Jason Moon 517-335-1700
LANSING - The Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation (OFIR) has summarily suspended the insurance licenses of American Benefit Concepts (ABC), a Kalamazoo insurance agency, its president Jason Juberg and vice president Matt Harper.
OFIR believes that the company and its leadership violated the state's Uniform Securities Act by brokering unregistered securities offered by three investment scams - Diversified Global Finance, Diversified Lending Group and Diversified Liquid Asset Holdings and the alleged investment scam Pinnacle Capital Fund. OFIR had previously ordered Juberg, Harper and the above-mentioned companies to cease and desist from the sale of unregistered securities products.
An OFIR investigation found that from 2007-2009, ABC and its related investment scams severely harmed Michigan consumers through fraudulent real estate, alternative energy, hedge fund and short term loan investment scams.
OFIR believes that ABC, under Juberg and Harper's management, trained their employees and insurance agents to prey on a prospective investor's fear and greed. The agents recommended that investors liquidate safe investments to purchase unsuitable securities. ABC's agents solicited senior investors at free lunch seminars, in-home presentations and through cold call leads. These insurance agents claimed their investments would pay annual returns of up to 13 percent. A few investors did receive alleged dividend checks, but a vast majority never had access to their funds.
In total, OFIR identified more than 400 Michigan victims and nearly $60 million in unregistered products sold to investors by ABC insurance agents who were not licensed to sell securities products in Michigan.
OFIR proceeded with the suspension orders due to the continued suspect business dealings of ABC, Juberg and Haper with ABC executive Jose Garcia and Portage-based insurance agency Senior Marketing Group (SMG), whose insurance licenses were also suspended.
Last year, ABC agreed to settle a class action lawsuit filed by Michigan investors for $4.6 million. Subsequently, SMG and Garcia purportedly foreclosed on ABC's assets and acquired ABC's insurance client lists. SMG and Garcia now appear to be using misleading and deceptive sales practices in order to switch ABC's insurance clients to SMG to generate business and commissions, and unnecessarily replacing policies that may not provide better coverage.
OFIR also believes that ABC and its leadership are attempting to impede OFIR's pending administrative actions by failing to provide OFIR with notice of the foreclosure proceedings, by failing to update OFIR with the status of ABC's management and day-to-day operations while the action remains open.
OFIR has handed the results of its investigation over to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.
If consumers think they may be a victim of any of the above-mentioned investment schemes, they are asked to contact OFIR toll-free at (877) 999-6442.
To view OFIR's suspension order visit: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/lara/ABC_Order_352804_7.pdf