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Health Care & Environment
02.14 Exposure to Glyphosate-Based Herbicides and Risk for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: A Meta-Analysis and Supporting Evidence [If its killing us, make it illegal]
02.14 To avoid environmental catastrophe, everything must change [Consider why this headline is laughable or confusing to many, if not most, Americans...]02.13 Study Shows Toxic Pesticide Levels in Families Dropped by 60% After One-Week Organic Diet [2:10 video; Produce and canned vegetables laced with toxic chemicals—from fertilizers and herbicides, too—must be quickly phased out to use safe organic alternatives]
02.11 'People Shouldn't Be Going Bankrupt and Dying': Nationwide Week of Action Aims to Build Mass Movement Behind Medicare for All [Corporate control of government and media must be limited to allow efficient programs for the public good]
02.09 The potato solution: how the Guardian switched to biodegradable packaging [Non-recyclable products should be illegal]
News Media Matters
02.15 Samantha Bee: Fox News 'soiling themselves over the Green New Deal' [video clips from Samantha Bee, Seth Meyers and Stephen Colbert]
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
02.15 Jayapal Says Medicare for All Bill Coming in Two Weeks as Expert Calls Plan 'Astonishingly Strong' [Corporate control of government and media must be limited to allow efficient programs for the public good]
02.14 Pentagon Fears Climate Crisis, w/ Billions in Damage to US Bases & Societal Upheaval [In maniacally twisted capitalist countries inconvenient truths are ignored or harshly ridiculed, and Trump's stupid Wall obsession dominates the news instead.]
02.13 'We Will Be That Lantern on the Shore': Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley Rally With TPS Holders Outside Trump White House [Empathy and fairness are scarce when your President is a psychopath]
Economics & Corrupting-Capitalism
02.13 The Green New Deal offers radical environmental and economic change [For the survival of life on earth, capitalism must be effectively regulated or banned]
02.12 Climate and economic risks 'threaten 2008-style systemic collapse' [Willfull ignorance of Trump, Republicans, corporate-media and corporate-Democrats is steadfast, if not worsening]
02.11 Trump offers socialism for the rich, capitalism for everyone else [and the poor will die out like the insects]
International & Futurism
02.15 Who Is Really A Socialist? [Who is really a Republican, etc.?]
02.14 House passes bill to end US support for Saudi war in Yemen [Congress does something good again!]
02.14 Millions Flowed From Venezuelan Oil Firm to Small Bulgarian Bank [Transactions like Manafort performed for Trump. Which Venezuelan political leader is likely behind this—Maduro or Trump-supported Guaidó?]
TRUE LIFE JUST LIKE JOHN GRISHAM'S "THE FIRM":
Ripping Off Dead War Vets' Beneficiaries
Given Washington's complicity with banksterism, insurance fraud, and numerous other corporate scams, imagine how many others haven't come to light.
Sunday, 5 September 2010
Three firms, including Prudential and Metropolitan Life, handle retained-asset [fake] accounts for about 130 life insurers. No public records show how much, but at least $28 billion is involved.
Wall Street and other financial scammers do it from the living, Prudential and many insurers from the dead, ripping off families of killed war vets. On July 28, Bloomberg.com's David Evans discussed how it works in an article titled, "Fallen Soldiers' Families Denied Cash as Insurers Profit," a polite way of explaining grand theft. From the living, it's bad enough, from the dead, it gives chutzpah new meaning, affecting countless thousands of bereaved families.
Evans wrote about one, Cindy Lohman. Two weeks after her son Ryan was killed, she received a Prudential Financial, Inc. "9-inch-by-12-inch envelope," the company managing life insurance for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
A letter explained. As his beneficiary, she was entitled to $400,000 in death benefits along with something looking like a checkbook. The funds "would be placed in a convenient interest-bearing account, allowing her time to decide how to use" them, the letter saying:
"You can hold the money in the account for safekeeping for as long as you like," plus a disclaimer in easily overlooked fine print, explaining "what it called its Alliance Account," a non-FDIC insured scheme, a ripoff to defraud beneficiaries like Lohman.
After leaving the funds untouched for months, she tried unsuccessfully using one of the "checks," then failed a second time. She was "shocked," saying she thought the money was FDIC insured, in a bank, to be used freely.
Not so. The "checks" were drafts or IOUs. "That money - like $28 billion in 1 million death-benefit accounts managed by (130 insurers like Prudential) wasn't actually sitting in a bank." It was in Prudential's general corporate account earning income - around 4.8% for insurers, 1% or less for survivors. This summer it was 0.5%, less than half what some banks pay on jumbo CDs, and way less than insurers yield on their investments.
For sure - waging an illegal war of aggression, sending young men and women to die for a lie, Ryan Lohman one of thousands affected (plus others maimed and disabled for life), their deaths compounded by insurance fraud ripping of their survivors, and VA officials doing nothing to stop it, claiming ignorance when they damn well knew or easily could have found out. For every branch of government, the business of America is business, the public their patsies to be scammed of their money, health and welfare.
So-Called "Retained-Asset" Accounts
They've become standard practice "in an industry that touches virtually every American: There are more than 300 million active life insurance policies in the US, and the industry holds $4.6 trillion in assets, according to the American Council of Life Insurers."
Insurers tell survivors their money is safe, guaranteed by them not the government, making them woefully unsafe when investments are ripped off, and the principal depends on the company's health.
According to Jeffrey Stempel, Law Professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas William S. Boyd School of Law, the "checkbook" system cheats survivors.
Three firms, including Prudential and Metropolitan Life, handle retained-asset accounts for about 130 life insurers. No public records show how much, but at least $28 billion is involved.
Besides scamming beneficiaries, insurance companies may be violating federal bank law - a 1933 statute making it "a felony for any company to accept deposits without state or federal authorization." Only chartered banks and credit unions can do it. Insurers aren't chartered or regulated, so funds they hold for beneficiaries will disappear if they go under.
Further, the bogus Obama administration "financial reform" doesn't address retained-asset accounts, only a new federal insurance office with no teeth. The same holds for the entire bill, a gift to Wall Street and big insurers, small investors left unprotected, or as one analyst explained - "austerity" for the public, high times for the big boys, and why not. They wrote the bill and got what they want as they did for "healthcare reform" and everything else Congress enacts, corporate occupied territory like the White House and all federal agencies. How else could Wall Street and insurers like Prudential commit fraud and get away with it.
Pru and Met Life alone rip off hundreds of millions of dollars annually, stealing one of their main profit centers with no accountability. Since 1999, the VA let Prudential send survivors "checkbooks" for its Alliance Account. "In 2009 alone, (recipient) families....were supposed to be paid" $1 billion in death benefits "immediately, according to their insurance policies. They weren't."
Pru VA policies offer either a lump sum payment or 36 monthly installments. About 90% choose the former and get a "checkbook," not a cashable check. Yet under a 2008 law, recipients have one year to put their funds into a tax-free Roth IRA. Lohman said Pru never told her. Unless Congress corrects the fraud, she and other recipients "will remain a secret profit center for the life insurance industry," their officials robbing the graves of dead soldiers.
Parents Sue for Lost Benefits
On August 30, AP reported that the parents of six dead soldiers "are suing Prudential Financial, saying it paid paltry interest on military life insurance benefits while keeping more generous" payouts for itself.
Filed in Springfield, MA US District Court, it accuses Pru of using "bookkeeping maneuvers," misrepresenting how benefits are handled. "Their attorneys are seeking class-action status" for potentially tens of thousands of others.
One of four attorneys involved, Cristobal Bonifaz, said lost interest varies, "depending on how quickly beneficiaries withdrew the money," those leaving it untouched (the great majority) owed the most, as much as $30,000 per recipient.
"What we're saying to Prudential is, 'You kept investing the money, but that money did not belong to you as of the day that person died, and whatever you made off it, you should give to those persons it was meant for."
Hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake. Plaintiffs in the current suit are parents of soldiers who died in Iraq, Afghanistan, El Salvador, and those dying after returning home.
Lead plaintiffs, Kevin and Joyce Lucey, spoke for many saying: "It's totally unacceptable for any company to think they can treat any family that has gone through this kind of trauma, especially military families. (We) think it becomes part of our responsibility to make sure no one has to go through anything similar to this."
Given Washington's complicity with banksterism, insurance fraud, and numerous other corporate scams, imagine how many others haven't come to light. Imagine also the challenges ordinary people face for restitution, even by class-action, deep-pocketed bigness and business-friendly courts huge hurdles to overcome, plus interminable litigation years, especially when high stakes are involved.
Listen to Lendman's cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
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Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.This story was published on September 5, 2010.