Phantom Insurance Broker Gets Jail Time for Scam
SANTA CLARA – The District Attorney’s Office for Santa Clara County is reporting that a former insurance broker, who was stealing insurance money from clients, was recently sentenced to six months in jail for the scam, in which he embezzled more than $30,000 from South Bay customers. They never actually received the insurance, but instead he used their money for personal applications.
46-year-old Ernie Boyd Morris of Marina, in Monterey County near Salinas, received the sentence last week from the Honorable Deborah Ryan after he pleaded no contest on June 4 to thirteen counts of identity theft, grand theft and theft of funds by a person acting as an agent or broker.
“It was very fortunate that the victims did not need to make a claim on any of the policies, because none of the victims actually had insurance coverage as a result of the fraud” prosecutor Christopher Kwok said.
Morris tended to target his own friends for his scheme, which lasted at least from 2010 to 2011. He would convince them to purchase insurance through him. For their money, he would tell them that they were buying auto, business, or workers’ compensation insurance policies. However, Morris pocketed the money without buying his clients any policies, while falsely telling them that they were now covered. In some cases, he would provide victims with fraudulent certificates of insurance.
The California Department of Insurance began investigating Morris in March 2011 when they received a complaint that he may have been selling insurance without a valid license. It turned out that his license had expired years before, and he was using licenses of acquaintances to do business. The investigation uncovered seven victims in Santa Clara County and three in Monterey County, for which he was convicted and sentenced this year.
Consumers can check the license status of insurance brokers and agents through the California Department of Insurance’s licensing hotline at 1-800-967-9331, or on their website.