A $86,000 crime
A former Kansas agent was sentenced in March to 24 months of probation after pleading guilty to insurance fraud. An investigation by the Kansas Insurance Department revealed that Armond Peghee submitted false applications for insurance policies for his customers without their knowledge and would pocket the commissions for selling the policies. In addition to probation, Peghee was ordered to pay $86,000 in restitution and a $5,000 fine.
Oklahoma insurance agent Mark Paul Lauderdale, 68, pleaded guilty in May to charges of embezzling $59,113 from various clients, including the town of Ripley, the Ingalls Activity Club and multiple individuals, during seven years between Jan. 1, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2017. According to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, Lauderdale paid restitution in full. He will be sentenced in May 2022.
(Photo: Atstock Productions/Shutterstock)
Arrested – again
Orestes Valentin Rodriguez of Miami was arrested for the second time in February after allegedly selling insurance without a license. According to the Florida Department of Financial Services, Rodriguez allegedly transacted more than $38,000 in business related to rental property renewal coverage after being arrested two years ago for a fraud scheme.
In March 2019, Rodriguez was arrested for stealing over $620,000 in premiums. A bank representative discovered the press release of Rodriguez’s arrest and notified the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office that he transacted insurance business with the bank after his arrest. A follow-up investigation showed that Rodriguez went back to the bank and collected insurance premium checks after his license revocation and arrest and provided a fraudulent insurance document certificate as proof of renewal coverage. He faces 10 counts of transacting insurance without a license and one count of organized scheme to defraud.
(Photo: New Africa/Adobe Stock)
Jonathan Michael Holladay of Jasper, Alabama, was indicted in March on charges of insurance fraud and identity theft. Holladay allegedly used his home address, business address and/or post office box as the address of the named insured on 17 policies issued by Allstate. He is also accused of adding himself as a spouse/operator on 14 policies, identifying himself as the payor/payer of 13 policies, and using his personal email address on multiple client policies where the loss or potential loss exceeded $1,000.
Fake it till you make it?
In February, Dillen Leonard, 25, of Flint, Mich., pleaded guilty to four counts of insurance fraud and one count of using a computer to commit a crime. The charges stem from Leonard selling or offering customers fraudulent certificates of insurance that appeared to be legitimate and were then presented by the clients to the Secretary of State as proof of insurance to apply for or renew their vehicle registrations. In July 2016, Leonard sold at least 30 fraudulent certificates.
In March, A judge ordered Leonard to serve 24 months of probation under Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA) status and pay $25,000 in restitution to the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services.
(Photo: Billion Photos/Shutterstock)
Agent Michael Heiberger of Epworth, Iowa, was charged in February with one count of money laundering, six counts of fraudulent sales practices, and nine counts of violating a cease and desist order following an investigation by the Iowa Insurance Division’s Fraud Bureau. According to the investigation, Heiberger altered customers’ premium payment schedules and amounts to use the funds for unauthorized business and personal expenses. He also continued to act as an insurance agent without a license in violation of an order issued by the state in May 2020.
(Photo: Adobe Stock)
Insurance agents and brokers serve as trusted advisors to their clients, ensuring that policyholders are adequately protected in the event of a loss.
However, on some rare occasions, agents abuse their profession for personal gain.
To date in 2021, there have already been dozens of cases of insurance fraud committed by agents. Whether it is embezzling money from clients, lying on insurance applications or stealing sensitive personal information for nefarious purposes, no crime was off-limits to these bad actors.
In the above slideshow, we feature six fraud cases by insurance agents in the first half of 2021 and reported by the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.