TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ Customers of the former NationsBank who invested in securities they wrongly thought were federally insured are finally getting their portion of a $26 million settlement.

More than three years after a class-action settlement, a federal judge signed an order Dec. 28 directing fund administrators to pay within 14 days some 7,200 past and present customers of the bank which since has been renamed Bank of America.

Without acknowledging wrongdoing, Bank of America set aside the money in 1998. ``This has been anticipated for some time,'' bank spokeswoman Ann McNeish said.

Attorneys originally expected the money to be distributed by late 1999. McNeish said she could not address reasons for the delay.

Duped mutual fund customers are being paid dollar for dollar for their losses, reimbursed as if they had invested as they thought they had _ in a one-year CD, paying 5 percent interest.

Investors in individual stocks and bonds will get back about 50 percent of their losses.

Most losses were for less than $20,000; a few claimants were heavy investors. Claims of less than $3 will not be distributed.

``It took a long time, but sometimes justice takes longer than one would want,'' said Jonathan Alpert, a Tampa lawyer who led the suit. ``It was a very complicated swindle by the bank. It was a complicated settlement process.''