Insurance agent steals more than $1 million from clients

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By the Orlando Sentinel

The owner of a local financial services company faces fraud charges, accused of stealing more than $1 million in insurance premium payments from clients, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater announced Tuesday.

In a statement, Atwater’s office said 60-year-old Mario Ferreri, of Windermere, bilked the money from two clients at his Winter Park-based firm, Financial Management Resources.

Investigators with the state’s Division of Insurance Fraud say Ferreri stole $750,000 from one client and $427,000 from another, between July 2009 and March 2014.

The scheme, according to authorities: Ferreri persuaded the clients to make their insurance premium checks payable to his company, instead of their insurance companies.

Ferreri told the clients this would “allow him to more effectively manage their investments,” officials say.

But instead of paying the premiums for his clients, he deposited their checks into his account, Atwater’s office said.

According to investigators, Ferreri concealed the theft by changing the addresses on his clients’ policies to his own, so they wouldn’t receive mail from their insurance providers indicating payments weren’t being received.

However, the clients eventually contacted the insurance companies to ask about their policies, and discovered they had lapsed due to lack of payment, Atwater’s office said.

Ferreri will be prosecuted by the Orange-Osceola State Attorney’s Office. He faces two counts of scheme to defraud more than $50,000 and was jailed Friday in Orange County. Officials said his bail was set at $1 million.

If convicted, Ferreri could face up to 60 years in prison. His professional license was also revoked by the state’s Division of Agent & Agency Services, Atwater’s office said.

In a statement, Atwater called the thefts “unthinkable,” adding: “I won’t allow this type of fraud in our state, and I will not tolerate such unethical conduct from an agent whose primary task is to properly manage clients’ finances.”

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