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Health Care & Environment
11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]
11.15 The long read: The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]
11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]
11.12 This Land is Your Land: The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Trump responds to worst fires in California’s history by threatening to withhold federal aid [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Interior department sued for ‘secretive process’ in at-risk species assessment [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Keystone XL pipeline: judge rules government 'jumped the gun' and orders halt [behaving ignorantly again...]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
11.16 As 'Green New Deal' Demand Grows, Democrats Have Choice: Confront and Defeat Fossil Fuel Industry or Take Credit for 'Doomed' Planet [Two choices: Save life-on-Earth or help Republicans let it die?]
11.15 Democrats Won Big. Can They Go Bold, Too? [it's about suppressing the influence and leadership by Republican-like Democrats who counsel 'íncremental' (no) change, such as Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Shumer and Joe Biden]
11.15 Pentagon Officials Forced to Make Fewer Public Appearances to Avoid Provoking Trump [...by revealing Trump's huuuge ignorance]
11.15 REPUBLICANS USED A BILL ABOUT WOLVES TO AVOID A VOTE ON YEMEN WAR [if there are 'defense industry' profits to be made—including congress-critter insider-trading—and political 'donations' to be had, we mustn't stop killing innocent civilians!]
11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
11.16 Amazon’s HQ2 Will Get a Tax Break Designed to Help the Poor [a Republican program that directly helps participating wealthy companies—but only helps workers if and when 'trickle-down' occurs.]
11.16 Trump doesn’t want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His new sanctions prove it. [George W. Bush made a similar immoral decision for the same oily reasons after 9-11, protecting Saudi defense contracts while facilitating the slaughter of poorer Arab "terrorists" in the region.]
11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]
International & Futurism
11.15 Cuba to pull doctors out of Brazil after President-elect Bolsonaro comments [terms must be negotiated for fairness to Cuba's health professionals without disruption of healthcare for Brazil's poor]
11.14 'Appalling' Khashoggi audio shocked Saudi intelligence – Erdogan [Exposing a psychopath?]
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.