Insurance fraud chief appeals 20-year prison term in $800 million benefits scam

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MIAMI — The man who masterminded an $800 million Florida insurance scam that fleeced more than 30,000 investors is appealing his 20-year prison term.

The attorney for 64-year-old Joel Steinger filed notice of appeal Wednesday in Miami federal court. Steinger was chief executive of the now-defunct Mutual Benefits Corp., which bought life insurance policies from people with AIDS, cancer and other chronic illnesses and sold them to investors.

The policyholder would get paid an upfront amount and the investor was promised a larger insurance payout when the person died. Steinger and others involved admitted that life expectancy numbers were cooked, the company's financial strength was falsified and older investors were paid with money from newer ones.

Thirteen people have been convicted or pleaded guilty in the case.

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