2/5/2016 11:16:52 AM
For Immediate Release:
SAINT PAUL – Following an investigation by the Minnesota Department of Commerce Fraud Bureau, the Dakota County Attorney’s Office has filed criminal charges against a former licensed insurance agent from Burnsville for defrauding and stealing from a senior client from Apple Valley.
Paul E. Kottke, age 70, who now resides in Omaha, Nebraska, is charged with two felonies: one count of insurance fraud and one count of theft by swindle.
“The criminal complaint in this case alleges that this insurance agent stole money from a senior client and then left her worse off at time when she needed the money most for her care and well-being,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “We want seniors and their family members to be vigilant about their financial affairs, and to promptly report potential fraud or theft. As the state’s consumer protection agency, the Commerce Department will vigorously investigate these cases to protect the public and ensure justice is served.”
According to the criminal complaint: In 1995, the client provided Kottke with $10,000 to purchase a Certificate of Deposit (CD) on her behalf. In 2004, she provided Kottke with an additional $1,000 to add to the earlier investment.
Kottke gave the client a handwritten investment statement and, over the course of the next nine years, sent her annual statements reflecting the principal and interest amounts on the CD. The final statement showed a total balance of $22,196.67.
In March 2013, because of the client’s deteriorating health, her family contacted Kottke and requested that her investment be liquidated to help pay for an assisted living facility.
Kottke told the family they had to wait to withdraw any funds and there would also be an early withdrawal penalty. Ultimately, Kottke failed to send any funds to the client or her family. He has not communicated with them since March 2013, and the client recently died.
A Commerce Fraud Bureau agent contacted Prudential, which said the account number on the statements did not conform to the company’s format and it had no record of an investment made by the victim or her family.
Commissioner Rothman urges family and close friends to maintain open communication and have more than one trusted person help oversee a senior’s financial affairs, especially if there is cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom commented: “Crimes against senior citizens are very troubling and far too common. All too often, seniors are victimized by persons they think they can trust.”
If you have questions or concerns about a possible scam or fraud, contact the Commerce Department’s Consumer Services Center by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 651-539-1600 or 800-657-3602 (Greater Minnesota).
Director of Communications
Minnesota Department of Commerce
P: 651-539-1463 | C: 651-368-5050 | email@example.com