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Friday, May 11, 2012

Marina Lorraine Weese: There's Much More To Her Story

Debt-riddled Traverse City woman reaps thousands in veterans scam; closer examination of her "digital debt trail" may have curbed losses

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy filing in public records, along with various "businesses" registered under her name

Left: Marina Lorraine Weese booking photo

Marina Lorraine Weese was an aging single woman, with overwhelming debt and an elderly mother under her care, when she filed a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy petition in U. S. Bankruptcy Court's Western Michigan District on August 4, 2009. Her home on Brown Bridge Road in Traverse City was underwater, and she owed nearly $125,000 to creditors, including $13,000 in credit card debt, and nearly $7,000 in delinquent property and income taxes.

Contrary to recent reports in local media, Weese didn't form "an online company called 'Patriot’s Club Publishing' to solicit donations for wounded veterans and then embezzled $40,000 from the group". 

Nope. After stewing over her troubles for a couple months, Marina just toddled over to the Grand Traverse County Clerk's office on Boardman Avenue and filed this "Assumed Business Name".  That's right, no company, no State of Michigan corporation or LLC. Zip, nada, nothing.  And if I can find it, anyone can--are you listening, Record-Eagle?

File Number: 2009-809
Address 1:   7790 BROWN BRIDGE RD
Address 2:   PO BOX 6158
City,State,Zip:   TRAVERSE CITY   MI  49696
Type:   DBA
File Date:   11/17/2009  Expiration Date: 11/17/2014
Disolved Date:    Last Renewed Date:

And that's not the first time Marina attempted to pull her fat out of the fire with a new business.  A check of Grand Traverse County records shows she's a pro in the business of "doing business as". 

Here's Marina's first DBA, given the self-aware-I'll-stick-my-hand-in-your-pocket name of "Opportunities Unlimited":

File Number: 1989-31989
Address 1:   7790 BROWN BRIDGE RD
Address 2:  
City,State,Zip:   TRAVERSE CITY   MI  49686
Type:   DBA
File Date:   4/21/1989  Expiration Date: 4/13/1999
Disolved Date:  4/13/1999  Last Renewed Date: 4/13/1994

Hhmmm? I guess those opportunities were limited.  Marina then moved on to vacation rental business (although it could have been a front for an escort service for all we know), first located on (you guessed it) Veterans Drive:

File Number: 1996-887
Address 1:   3480 VETERANS DR
Address 2:  
City,State,Zip:   TRAVERSE CITY   MI  49684
Type:   DBA
File Date:   9/9/1996  Expiration Date: 9/ 9/2001
Disolved Date:  9/9/2001  Last Renewed Date: 

File Number: 2001-971
Address 1:   733 E 8TH ST
Address 2:   SUITE 104
City,State,Zip:   TRAVERSE CITY   MI  49686
Type:   DBA
File Date:   9/24/2001  Expiration Date: 9/24/2006
Disolved Date:  9/24/2006  Last Renewed Date: 

State of Michigan corporation record:
ID Num: 130919  
Type of Entity: Domestic Profit Corporation
Resident Agent: MARINA L. WEESE
Registered Office Address: 7790 BROWN BRIDGE RD.  TRAVERSE CITY   MI  49686
Mailing Address:    
Formed Under Act Number(s): 284-1972          
Incorporation/Qualification Date: 6-16-1994
Jurisdiction of Origin: MICHIGAN
Number of Shares: 60,000
Year of Most Recent Annual Report: 02
Year of Most Recent Annual Report With Officers & Directors: 02
Status: AUTOMATIC DISSOLUTION   Date: 7-15-2005

Purchasing a veterans charity fundraising list (available to anyone without a conscience and a few dollars), Weese got to work, soliciting funds for her "veterans charity".

But here's the thing: anyone with a computer, an Internet connection and ten minutes could find out about Marina Weese--like I did.

Sure, it costs 8 cents a page to download her 2009 bankruptcy filing from Pacer.gov, but that's a small price to pay.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"Americo EIA"? BEWARE! Indexed Annuities Are A Safety Trap

 If American Senior Benefits knocks on your door and wants to sell you "financial security", grab your wallet.  

Here's some important information about Equity Indexed Annuities (or Indexed Annuities) that you won't hear from Shannon Nelson, Jonathan Young, Kelly Dachlter...and the rest of the crew being sued for fraud!

 Left: Jonathan Young
We found this cryptic tweet from Jonathan Young, American Senior Benefits' Senior Partner. Young's bio includes this boast: "Mr. Young qualified as a President’s Honor Circle member, ranking him in the top 1 percent of insurance agents in the nation." Bankers Life, the company presently suing Young for fraud and other charges, does indeed have a President's Honor Circle, but we're certain that the only circle Young's a part of is the ninth and final circle of Hell.

Pay close attention to the "Americo EIA" in the following tweet:

Americo EIA for 3162 comm, 55k prem shark and señor ref weXsell
The word equity previously tied to indexed annuities has been removed to help prevent the assumption of stock market vesting being present in these products.)
Indexed annuities are regulated by 51 different state insurance departments, many of which don't try as hard as they could to screen out crooks. While everyone who applies for a securities license must undergo an FBI background check with fingerprinting, only 17 states ran such checks for would-be agents as of March 2009, according to a Government Accountability Office report. (The main reason, says the GAO: lobbying. The insurance industry is the nation's sixth-largest political giver). 
Even though Equity Indexed Annuities are technically an insurance product, they are being marketed as an investment. But all an agent has to do to be able to sell them is sit through a five-day course and pass a simple test on health and life insurance. 
Oh, and fog up a mirror!
Unfortunately, most of these so-called "financial advisors" are compensated solely by the commission they receive from selling financial products. The more they sell, the more they make. If they don’t sell, they don’t eat. This alone creates a tremendous conflict of interest between them and the client. 
Consumers understand that conflict of interest in other purchases they make. You wouldn’t expect a car salesperson to recommend a vehicle that isn’t offered by their dealership. So consumers view the salesperson’s recommendation with a healthy dose of skepticism.

That same skepticism should be applied to the purchase of financial products as well. Those who purchase mutual funds or stocks are fully aware of the commission they’re paying. However, few Equity Indexed Annuity consumers are aware of the commission their advisors are making off of their purchases.

This is why  Equity Indexed Annuities may be the "Next Big Investment Scandal". The hidden conflict of interest between an advisor and client is greatest when an Equity Indexed Annuity is being recommended. There are huge incentives designed to motivate an advisor to recommend an Equity Indexed Annuity over any other financial investment they offer–incentives that aren’t disclosed to the client.

An advisor can make more commission from selling an Equity Indexed Annuity than they can from any other investment they offer. A lot more. In some cases, the amount of commission is three to four times greater than on an investment like a mutual fund.

Sunday, May 6, 2012


 The Bankers Life Fraud Suit: The Final Decision
In case you're new to the scene, here's a recap of how this scandal came to be, as we originally broke the story on this blog March 15, 2012:

Five managers and twelve insurance agents previously associated with the Traverse City branch of Bankers Life and Casualty have tentatively settled a civil suit filed in Chicago on April 26, 2011. A status hearing is scheduled for 9:45 a.m. on March 20, 2012 before Honorable Geraldine Soat Brown.

But as the legal clock ticks down to the March 20 status hearing in Chicago, the five biggest fish (all former Bankers Life Traverse City office senior managers)—Shannon Nelson, Kelly Dachtler, Ryan Kashmerick, Timothy Horvath and David Teesdale—aren’t waiting for the ink from the judge's signature to dry. They’ve already formed a new company, American Senior Benefits, and have gone right back into the insurance business.

The seventeen had been sued by the company for fraud. The suit alleged “breach of contract, misappropriation of confidential client information and trade secrets.” The seventeen signed Bankers Life agent contracts containing confidentiality, anti-raiding and customer non-solicitation provisions.

Bankers Life, a health and life insurance company with more than 200 branch sales offices across the country, sought compensatory damages, double damages for willful misappropriation of trade secrets, punitive damages, costs, and attorneys’ fees.

Named in the civil complaint filed on April 26, 2011 by Bankers Life in Chicago’s U. S. District Court is former Branch Sales Manager Shannon Nelson. Nelson’s LinkedIn profile states he began his career with Bankers Life as an Agent Development Associate in March 1993, at the Evansville, Indiana branch office. He was named Branch Sales Manager of the Traverse City office in 1994.

Also named: former unit sales managers Kelly Dachtler and Ryan Kashmerick, former unit field trainers Timothy Horvath and David Teesdale, and former agents Troy Baxter, Lisa Benson, John Blanck, Bert Brotherton, John Kime, Seth Kishefsky, Joseph Michalec, Michael Robertson, Kurtis Tulppo, and Johnathan Young. Except for Kime, who lives in suburban Detroit, the defendants are Traverse City area residents.

The Bankers Life Traverse City branch office unraveled in early February 2011, when members of Bankers Life’s human resources department and special investigations unit arrived at its 800 Hastings Street location to conduct on-site investigations prompted by complaints regarding the activities of both former and current agents and managers.

According to court papers, the investigations revealed numerous instances of “fraud and other improper conduct” by all seventeen defendants.

Nelson, Dachtler and Kashmerick disclosed during their interviews with the Bankers Life special investigations unit in February that they had improperly instructed agents to stop placing sales leads on the “do not call” list unless the individuals had requested that “they not be called at least seven times.” According to the court filing, agents that did not follow this instruction were reportedly “subject to retaliation by Nelson, Dachtler and Kashmerick”.

Timothy Horvath acknowledged to Bankers Life investigators during an interview that he had forged “the signature of a policyholder on her policy delivery receipt.”

Jonathan Young revealed to investigators that he had forged “the signatures of several of his family members on policy applications.” Bankers Life alleges in its suit that Young took out the policies to “qualify for a sales bonus,” and then cancelled the policies shortly thereafter.

The Bankers Life suit claimed that Nelson, Dachtler, Kashermick, Horvath and Young, in anticipation of negative consequences of the investigations conducted in Traverse City, obtained licenses to sell insurance products for North American Company for Life & Health Insurance (North American), a competitor of Bankers Life. The suit maintained that these five defendants then “resigned from and/or voluntarily terminated their contracts with Bankers Life and solicited the other defendants to terminate their contracts from Bankers Life and join North American”.

A review of the State of Michigan’s Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation licensing records confirms that Nelson, Dachtler, Kashermick, Horvath and Young first obtained licenses to sell insurance products for North American between March 9 and March 20, 2011.

Bankers Life claimed that they then instructed the other twelve defendants to “obtain a license with North American and prepare to sever their relationships with Bankers Life”.

Shortly before resigning, all seventeen defendants “accessed Bankers Life’s Sales Productivity Network and/or Bankers Life’s Centralized marketing database and downloaded thousands of proprietary policyholder records and prospecting resources”—information that could be used to target specific policyholders and tailor proposals directly to them. The downloaded information included protected health information regulated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Among the highlights asserted by Bankers Life in the court filings are:

-Shannon Nelson was the first to access the Centralized Marketing Database. Beginning in late February 2011, after he was aware of the investigation, he “downloaded multiple prospect and customer lists”. (Michigan licensing records verify that Nelson was appointed to North American on March 20, 2011 and resigned from Bankers Life on March 31, 2011.)

-Kelly Dachtler received her appointment with North American on March 13, 2011 and submitted her resignation from Bankers Life on March 26, 2011. According to the Bankers Life suit, Dachtler “downloaded policyholder records on March 14, 15, 16, 19, 22, 23, 24 and 26”. Dachtler capped her downloading with a “policyholder list containing hundreds of records on March 27, the day after she submitted her resignation”.

- Ryan Kashmerick received his appointment with North American on March 9, 2011 and submitted his resignation from Bankers Life on March 20, 2011. During the interim, Kashmerick “downloaded a significant number of policyholder records on March 9, 10, 14 and 15”.

- Timothy Horvath received his appointment with North American on March 10, 2011 and submitted his resignation from Bankers Life on March 18, 2011. Horvath “downloaded over one thousand policyholder records on March 17, the day before he submitted his resignation”.

-David Teesdale received his appointment with North American on March 15, 2011 and submitted his resignation from Bankers Life on March 23, 2011. Teesdale “downloaded hundreds of policyholder records the very day of his resignation, and downloaded several policyholder records the day after he resigned”.

Bankers Life maintained “the defendants removed the records from the database and branch office with the intent to use the information in their new positions with North America”.

In addition to the allegations of “misappropriation of trade secrets and confidential client files”, the suit claimed that four defendants admitted during their interviews to “contacting Bankers Life policyholders for the purpose of having them cancel or replace policies issued to them by Bankers Life”.

Kurtis Tulppo and Joseph Michalec were among those Bankers Life claimed contacted numerous policyholders, some by phone and some in writing.

The suit alleged Tulppo contacted a policyholder by phone, telling her that he left Bankers Life because of “bad business” but that he could help her with any questions that she may have, and they he could get her a “better deal” with another company.

And after terminating his agreement with Bankers Life, Michalec allegedly contacted a prospective Bankers Life policyholder and “solicited her to cancel her insurance applications with Bankers Life and take out policies with a competitor”. As a result, Bankers Life claimed the policyholder cancelled her applications with the company.

Michigan corporation records confirm that Central Licensing Bureau, Inc., an Arkansas-based insurance industry compliance service, filed paperwork to incorporate “American Senior Benefits, LLC” on April 25, 2011—one day before Bankers Life filed its civil suit.

Michigan classifies American Senior Benefits, LLC a “foreign limited liability company” as it was originally formed in Ohio. Launched under the name, HealthMark Sales of Ohio, LLC on May 25, 2001, the company changed its name three times over the next nine years before finally settling on its present identity in 2010.

Shannon Nelson, the former Bankers Life Traverse City branch sales manager, heads the new company as its Regional Sales Manager. Nelson’s senior management team includes former Bankers Life colleagues Kelly Dachtler, Jonathan Young, and John Blanck, who joined American Senior Benefits as Senior Partners. Nelson named former Bankers Life Unit Sales Manager Ryan Kashmerick the new Branch Sales Manager, and fellow alum David Teesdale was added to the staff as the company’s new Executive Administrator.

American Senior Benefits is located in Traverse City’s Harbour View Center at 333 W. Grandview Parkway.

Caveat emptor, baby!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

American Senior Benefits: Twitter Analysis

Just discovered the Twitter handles for the ASB crew. Funny thing is, most of them don't show a picture, just that little egg thingy.

Here's a list of the names with links to their Twitter accounts. Check them out and read the bragging about sales and commissions.  These people are too much! Check out this one from Ryan Kashmerick:

It's a great day to help seniors - sell early & often. Start off the day as if it's in purpose! S&H

Here are the links:

American Senior Benefits Interview Scam: First-Hand Report

Read this first-hand report, from an American Senior Benefits interviewee who prefers to remain anonymous:

I am so disgusted with companies today taking advantage of so many unemployed individuals looking desperately for a job. The latest scam I have unraveled is American Senior Benefits. I was interviewed years back by Bankers Life and Casualty, who sit you down in a room with several people, make it feel like you are singled out and then "selected" for a second interview. 

You then are told you will make lots of money. The kicker is that it is a commission-only position, driving all over using your own gas, and selling expensive life insurance, mostly preying on seniors! Well, their reputation must have gotten the best of them, (I have since worked for a much better company who sold higher-quality products) because I have spoke with people who have worked for them, and had nothing but negative things to say. 

So what did they do? They changed their name to American Senior Benefits! They even went as far as to move to a different office! I was invited to an interview this afternoon, and when I came into the room, I saw several people sitting down, anticipating an interview as well, all at the same table. On the board were names written: Shannon Nelson, and Ryan. These two guys were the main guys for Bankers! 

I immediately knew what was going on and needless to say, I did not stick around for the interview. I am hoping that other people who are looking for a job don't fall for this trick, and get sucked into this cult! Beware! And good luck to all of you honest-working people looking for a good job!!!

Honest job-hunters, beware!

Shannon Nelson Fraud Case Continued While Settlement Is Sought; Talks Continue

The case against former Traverse City Bankers Life office head Shannon Nelson and sixteen of his fellow crooks has been continued to May 29, 2012. 

Excerpt from court document filed on April 24, 2012:

MINUTE entry before Honorable Geraldine Soat Brown: Status hearing held and
continued to 5/29/12 at 9:45 a.m. If consent judgment is submitted in advance of that date,
no one needs to appear on 5/29/12.

If you have information about this case, please let us know.