An independent insurance agent, Glenn Neasham, was convicted on a felony-theft charge in March for selling a complex indexed annuity to an 83-year old client in a California court. He was sentenced to spend ninety days in jail. Prosecutors claimed that Mr. Neasham’s client had exhibited signs of dementia and was not capable of consenting to the transaction.
This case has stirred fear among insurance and securities agents. The state’s then-insurance commissioner stated in 2010, after Mr. Neasham’s arrest, that agents “who steal from vulnerable seniors will not get away with their shameful tricks.” Agents are attracted to indexed annuities because they receive high commissions, which can be 12% or more of the invested amount. As a result of this case and heightened regulatory scrutiny, agents will have to think twice before selling indexed annuities to the elderly. The $14,000, or 8%, commission that Mr. Neasham received was a factor used against him to prove his criminal intent.