Broker admits using nursing home residents as pawns in annuities scheme, agrees to $850,000 settlement

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The mastermind of a financial fraud that victimized nursing home residents has admitted wrongdoing and will pay $850,000 in a settlement, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced Thursday.

Michael A. Horowitz, a broker based in Los Angeles, devised a scheme in which wealthy investors bought annuities that paid out when nursing home residents died, according to the SEC. Horowitz and his accomplices allegedly used a fake charity and other means to steal the residents' identification information, and falsified documentation to get insurance companies to issue the annuities.

These insurance companies might not have sold the products if they knew the annuitants were terminally ill, and that Horowitz's customers intended to use the annuities as “short-term investment vehicles,” the federal authorities stated.

“The settlement ensures that he will never work in the securities industry again, and he must pay back his ill-gotten sales commissions from the scheme plus interest and an additional penalty,” stated Julie M. Riewe, co-chief of the SEC Enforcement Division's Asset Management Unit.

The scheme ultimately involved institutional investors, as well, through the auspices of BDL Manager LLC. The investment firm agreed to a $4.5 million settlement, the SEC announced in March. BDL did not admit any wrongdoing.

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