Insurance Commissioner Warns Of Investment Scams

BY STEVE DINNEN

Iowa Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen has been meeting with people all over the state to warn them of the evils of consumer investment scams such as oil and gas drilling programs, gold and precious metals buy-ins, self-directed IRAs, and high-yield investment products. Seniors are especially vulnerable, since they (A.) answer the phone, and (B.) have money to be taken.

Some of these hustles involve serious money. Promissory notes are especially useful in this regard, and Ommen used as an illustration one Randall A. Finer of Lake Mills. In 2015 he was ordered by then-commissioner Nick Gerhart to pay $614,000 to 24 people he allegedly had issued promissory notes for a “guaranteed” 20 percent return on day trading he was engaged in. Most promissory notes are securities, which means both they and the person selling them must be registered with state or federal authorities. That was not the case with Mr. Finer, according to the state.

Authorities say it’s OK to hang up the phone or slam the door on people unknown to you. They urge you to call the Insurance Division, 877-955-1212, to check on a registration. Or call the Iowa attorney general’s office, at 515-281-5164. Don’t call Mr. Finer. He currently is charged criminally in Winnebago County with operating a Ponzi scheme that bilked people out of $800,000.

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