Scam artists target innocent insurance customers at an unfortunately high rate. Our Florida insurance attorneys noticed a recent story about one such scam. Randall Peterson, a 47 year old Cantonment man, was arrested last week for creating a fake company and issuing fake insurance policies to hundreds of unsuspecting customers, according to news reports. He was charged with felony insurance fraud, grand theft, and criminal use of personal identification.
Peterson created a fake company called College Consultants of the Gulf Coast and tried to get people in Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi to sign up for seminars on employment issues and to buy fake life insurance policies. The Florida Department of Financial Services Division of Insurance Fraud started to investigate him found out about this fake company and his scams. Peterson also wrote 285 such fake life insurance policies with the American National Insurance Co, which paid him hundreds of thousands of dollars in unearned commissions and bonuses--about $330,000 according to the Department of Financial Services and CFO Jeff Atwater. American National noticed the fraud when all of his supposed policies were cancelled for non-payment.
After arrest, Peterson found himself in Escambia County jail, but is out on a $30,000 bail for the time being. If convicted he faces up to 30 years in jail and pending the outcome of the investigation into these shady schemes, his insurance license may be revoked.
As noted above, this is not only a problem in Florida. In April, a couple were arrested in Las Vegas and sent to California where they were arraigned in a San Diego courtroom last week for selling fake insurance policies to vulnerable seniors across the country; there is evidence of their scheme in California and ten other states. The insurance scam was for in-home care services seniors often need, like cooking, cleaning, driving and shopping. The couple, Michael and Melissa Woodward, also set up fake companies, like Peterson, and took pre-paid annual fees for fake policies. Their scam was so elaborate that they often paid the cheaper claims their "policyholders" submitted, but ignored and rejected any more expensive claim, causing confusion and hurt to the elderly they targeted. The Woodward's apparently made more than $2 million from their scam according to state and federal officials who were investigating them.
Florida insurance customers need to be careful and check out any policies they are offered. As seen above, there are shady characters out there trying to get your money and being a smart consumer can save a lot of heartache later. But insurance companies themselves often try to find ways to not give you benefits or compensation when you need it. If you have been injured in an accident and are having a problem with your insurance provider, contact a Florida insurance attorney to learn about your options. In Florida, if you proceed with a case and you succeed the attorney's fees will automatically be the responsibility of the insurance company. So no matter the size of your claim, you would get to keep the court award and do no need to worry about paying legal fees.
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