October 24, 2007                                                         Contact:Lucas Hamilton


      Montana State Auditor John Morrison today announced a proposed order issued against Troy insurance agent Martin O. Bower. The proposed order bans the former Banker’s Life insurance agent from becoming licensed to sell insurance for five years and fines him $80,000 for victimizing two elderly Montana women in northwestern Montana. The case resulted from a complaint by a family concerned about their mother who is an Alzheimer’s victim.
      “Montana senior citizens should be able to feel that their investments are suitable and their retirement is secure,” said Morrison, Montana’s Securities Commissioner. “This is a matter of consumer protection. We will not allow people who don’t play by the rules to coerce senior citizens to buy inappropriate investment products.”
      Bower had been to the Alzheimer’s victim’s home near Ronan on several occasions convincing her to liquidate her securities accounts to purchase an insurance product, a fixed-index annuity. A second complainant lived in an assisted living apartment in Kalispell and Bower attempted to obtain inappropriate control over her Glacier Bancorp stock certificates in order to sell her a fixed annuity.
      Morrison has indicated his concern about the suitability of some investments for senior citizens, particularly certain annuity products and viaticals.
      “Investors must be fully informed before they make decisions to buy or sell securities or annuities,” Morrison said. “They should obtain full disclosure about any investment opportunity and consult an expert before investing.”
      He said investors should understand whether there are financial consequences with the sale of a security, such as a capital gains tax or deferred sales charges. Investors also need to realize the risks and obligations of investing in annuities. There may be a lengthy holding period, penalties for early withdrawal, a lack of liquidity or other significant factors.
      “This office will continue to pursue action that protects Montana consumers, particularly our seniors, who are victims of a larger percentage of scams than any other segment of society,” Morrison said. “We will not tolerate the actions of individuals who target seniors and prey on their vulnerabilities.”
      Montanans concerned about persons offering investment advice they should call the Auditor’s office toll free at 800-332-6148 to verify their expertise.