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AXA Equitable review: misrepresentation/altering documents

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My wife was pressured into purchasing a "Variable Interest Annuity" by a registered and licensed sales agent for AXA/MONY. Part of the sales pitch was that the funds were the result of a divorce settlement and were a "Qualified Domestic Relations Order" (QDRO). This would allow a portion of the funds to be withdrawn without a penalty. (Taxes, of course, would have to be paid.

My wife received a letter from AXA's Philadelphia representative, a Paul Bufty, stating that it was a QDRO and that he was including the court QDRO with his letter. Well, no QDRO paperwork was issued. It was not a QDRO and two years after the fact the IRS placed a hefty penalty on the funds taken out.

My wife misplaced the original letter, but asked for a copy. A "copy" was sent to her, but all mention of the QDRO, and thus proof of the misrepresentation or error was eliminated. A complaint was filed with AXA's President. An "investigation" was conducted, which amounted to asking Mr. Bufty if he provided the incorrect "QDRO" information. He denied it and that ended the matter.

AXA declined to speak with either my wife's attorney who had knowledge of the affair, my wife (so she could question Bufty's claims, or myself, who was present at a significant meeting.

My wife now found the original letter stating that AXA considered it a QDRO. So, we have two letters, one with the misrepresentation of funds as QDRO and another letter, claimed to be the original with all references to the claims of the QDRO papers mysteriously missing.

Forgery is defined as the crime of falsely making or altering a writing by which the legal rights or obligations of another person are apparently affected. I am not a lawyer and hesitate in accusing the huge French financial giant of such petty actions to cover up a serious problem with a small investor. But, as the current banking mess shows, large corporations will behave in strange ways to get every advantage over ordinary, modest income Americans.


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Jun 08, 2012 7:01 pm EDT

@Krslauren - you are 100% correct. Our compliance officer at work is a hard nosed by the book person, which is awesome b/c it weeds the crooks that give us a bad name out of the industry, at least in my company. If we even leave our decks unlocked to go to the bathroom we get written up for not being in compliance. God forbid we don't have documents of prior conversations or appointments we will get fired. It behooooovees everyone in our office to follow procedures and be by the book so we keep a job. If this advisor did not have his stuff in order in my agency he would get fired and the company would be held accountable for. It's hard to trust someone you don't know and but I would say trust your first impression. Nobody should ever force you into anything, if they do then run for the hills. Hope this helped? -Tom

Jun 08, 2012 6:53 pm EDT

I work for Mass Mutual Financial Group and we are a top notch company. In the Fortune 500 magazine as one of the most admired company in 2012. What's great about my company is that we are a Mutual company, hence Mass Mutual. What that means is the policy holders own the company and dividends are paid directly to the policy holders not shareholder and policy holders like stock companies do. We have a history of paying dividends to our policy holders for the past 160 years, since they've been in business, which if you are a history buff, that's prior to the Civil War. I have a team of specialists, not ad visors, and if you are or were looking for concepts and strategies that will be what YOU want it to look like, I am the person you want to talk to. My theory is that what I do for my clients must be what's good for them and what I do for them it MUST be something I would do for my grandmother, parents, sister, extended family and my friends. If a financial services representative tells you "this is what's best for you" and not "do you think this fits in what your big picture looks like and if it's not I will go back to the drawing board for you" then run for the hills. What I also tell my clients is this, "There are 2 outcomes that come out of my meetings with my clients: 1. you or I will stand on either sides of the table and say look I appreciate your time but I don't think this partnership is going to work or on the other hand you can say I like what you've brought to the table and I want to build a nice working relationship together. Either way we will still shake hands and part as friends." I respect and cherish my relationships with my clients and want them to feel as comfortable as possible. I will love to sit down and discuss what we can do for each other. Call me at [protected] for a free consultation. - Tom

May 01, 2011 4:32 am EDT

thank you for sharing your experience here, especially because i'm newly divorced and was researching qdro's (which is how i stumbled across your experience)
while your experience was unfair, unfortunate and very decietful, the financial advisor in question was certainly wrong and misleading to your wife. axa didn't fraud your wife, the advisor did.
most financial advisors work independently even though they may be represented by a national corporation. your financial advisor is 100% to blame here, and most companies, like axa, want little or no involvement in cases of fraud because the responsiblity lies in the hands of the financial advisor.
advisors are personally and independently responsible for retaining all records of business conducted and while some advisors (such as the one your wife used) may not keep honest and organized records. it IS their job to do so.


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1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York United States