Another unlicensed insurance agent has been caught trying to dupe consumers in California, as our San Francisco insurance attorneys recently noticed in the news . We know that consumers must be careful, as a lot of insurance scams do exist. Californians need to be vigilant, checking into anything that seems suspicious, and watching out for news of any new problems, like we do.
Last week,Howard Thomas Jackson, 59 and an unlicensed insurance agent in Oceanside, was arrested on suspicion of defrauding clients of more than $300,000. He was arrested on charges of six felony counts of grand theft, embezzlement, and theft of fiduciary funds, as well as suspicion of possessing more than 28.5 grams of marijuana for sale, according to reports from the California Department of Insurance and the San Diego County Sherriff’s Department. Mr. Jackson was booked into Vista jail last Wednesday and, according to the jail, is being held without bail. His next court appearance is scheduled for September 17. The Investigation Division, Criminal Operations – Point of Sale [C.O.P.S.] Unit investigated this case, and now the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office will prosecute under the Life and Annuity Consumer Protection Program.
A Department spokesperson, Dave Althausen, said that the investigation was prompted by a complaint filed in August 2011 by a victim Mr. Jackson scammed out of $80,000. Thereafter, the Department determined that Mr. Jackson had allegedly diverted two of his customers’ funds for his own use without their knowledge or consent. He also allegedly persuaded clients to refinance their homes and placing the proceeds into life insurance policies and an investment company associated with himself. Two San Diego area residents gave Mr. Jackson money for refinancing mortgages to pay premiums on policies and investments they believed they were buying. Instead, Mr. Jackson only paid one year’s worth of premiums on the policies and took the rest of the money for his personal and business expenses. Others of Mr. Jackson’s victim clients made monthly payments believing the proceeds were going towards investments, when again Mr. Jackson was simply taking that money for himself.
Mr. Jackson once possessed valid insurance broker licenses, but one expired in 1995 and the other in 2009 and were not renewed, according to the Department. The 1995 license was for Property Broker-Agent and Casualty Broker-Agent and the 2009 license was for Life-Only and Accident and Health agent. This is no excuse for his behavior, and the lack of licensing possibly makes the situation worse since he could seem more credible to his victim clients from his previous experiences despite the clients’ lack of knowledge as to his status. If convicted on all counts, Mr. Jackson faces up to five years in prison, as well as fines and restitution orders.
Clients of Mr. Jackson who believe they may have been victimized should contact Supervising Criminal Investigator Kevin Oden (909) 919-2239. The Department is continuing its investigation and assisting the criminal prosecution, but if you need personal legal advice, about either Mr. Jackson or any other insurance related legal problem, contact a California insurance lawyer in your area.
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