BRADENTON, Fla. - We conclude our month-long coverage of protecting seniors against scams with a story about trustworthiness.
Phil Deeb of Bradenton trusted the man he thought was a financial adviser.
Turns out, Dennis Cline was nothing but a con artist. Deeb suffered greatly as a result, losing close to $200,000 of his retirement savings, and forcing him back to work.
At 74-years-old, Phil never expected to be putting his Publix butcher's jacket back on. “I was really angry, and really upset.”
A few years ago, Dennis Cline became Deeb's health insurance agent. He also claimed to be a financial adviser. The two became friends. “I just didn't have any reason to be that skeptical of him.”
So Deebs handed over his life savings to Cline to be invested – close to $200,000. “Next thing I know, the bottom just fell out on everything.”
Deeb's children, Denee and J.P., knew something was fishy. “Infuriating…we were so mad.”
Months later, authorities arrested Cline, charging him with a felony for Scheming to Defraud over $50,000. He used the money on himself-- nothing extravagant -- but improving his lifestyle.
He was just sentenced to thirty months in prison, in addition to having to pay Deebs back.
“I'm glad he's in jail. I feel he needed to be punished. I would be very surprised if we ever see a penny from this man.”
The IRS, however, is still seeking more than just pennies from Deebs. You see, Cline was supposed to file Deeb's returns over the years. That never happened. Now the IRS wants $20,000 from the victim.
“We've had to make changes to the way we eat, the way we live. We can’t go out as much as we'd like, or at all half the time,” says Deebs.
And it's a time Deebs expected to be spending more time with his family -- not going back to work.
When Cline is released, he will also be on probation for twenty years.
Deebs's story is nothing unusual. According to the Federal Trade Commission, as many as 10 million Americans a year become the victims of identity theft.
Here are some tips:
If you're like Deebs, and ready to retire, do plenty of research on the person or company you are willing to hand off your hard earned money to.
Also, monitor your accounts often or have someone like a family member do that on your behalf.
Finally, order a copy of your credit report every year and review it for accuracy. It should include activities only you have authorized.