MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – State commerce officials are advising senior citizens and their families to be vigilant over their bank accounts after two former finance professionals were charged with exploiting senior clients.
Fifty-four-year-old Paul Bardine, of Minnetrista, and 45-year-old John Heath, of Edina, are charged in separate cases, but each faces a count of theft by swindle.
In addition, Bardine is also accused of insurance fraud, as well as stealing more than $270,000 from several clients, including a 79-year-old woman and couple in their 70s.
Heath faces an additional count of identity theft in a case where he’s accused of stealing more than $220,000 from an 88-year-old client with Alzheimer’s disease.
“These cases are a distressing reminder that seniors are often targeted for financial exploitation, and this threat is expected to grow as the senior population itself grows,” said Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman, in a statement. “I encourage Minnesota seniors to closely monitor their finances, talk with family members and contact the Commerce Department if anything seems suspicious.”
Authorities say Bardine was a former insurance agent who persuaded several clients to cash out annuities he’d sold them and invest in one of his companies. Bardine then used the money for personal expenses.
As for Heath, a former financial adviser, authorities say he cashed out an annuity owned by his client with Alzheimer’s disease by posing as him in official documents.
Anyone who believes they might be victims of Bardine and Heath is asked to call the Minnesota Commerce Fraud Bureau at 651-539-1617.