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State Says Trainer Scared Elderly into Annuities

The Massachusetts Securities Division has charged a Denver broker/dealer with scaring elderly people into abandoning their securities in favor of annuities with outrageous commissions.

The complaint, filed late last month, alleges that Tyrone Clark and his firm, Broker's Choice of America, "recruited and trained associates to target the elderly and scare them into . . . annuities."

In addition, the complaint alleges that Clark and his associates "used specious titles as Certified Elder Planning Specialists' (CEPS') to mislead the elderly and disguise the fact that the associates were insurance salesman."

The complaint asks for a cease and desist order and an administrative fine.

Clark, also operates Annuity University, a two-day training session featured in a July 2 article in The Wall Street Journal [see Annuity Market News, October]. The article quotes Clark as telling annuity salespeople to treat the elderly like "blind 12-year-olds."

While Clark has defended his sales tactics and says that he intends to teach people how to help elderly investors, the complaint quotes much of Clark's own training literature to make its case. Although the WSJ article did bring Annuity University to the attention of the public, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts's current actions were precipitated by May and June queries and complaints about Clark's businesses, according to the state.

Clark does not have any active complaints with the insurance department in Colorado, where his businesses are based and where the Annuity University seminars take place, a department spokesperson said.