A Florida insurance agency employee was arrested following an alleged scheme that officials claim bilked her Ft. Lauderdale-based employer out of more than $1 million, according to a statement from Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater.
Jennifer Summerlott, a former customer service representative at Fairway Insurance Group, LLC, is accused of orchestrating an elaborate scheme to defraud the agency through the use of fake insurance invoices to reroute funds for her personal financial benefit, according to the Department of Financial Services.
Summerlott served as the accounts payable and commercial lines manager for Fairway, an independent agency, from 2006-2015. In 2015,Fairway staff members noticed account irregularities and reported their findings to the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, DFS said. The case was referred to insurance fraud investigators within the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Investigative and Forensic Services (DIFS).
The subsequent investigation revealed that between 2010 and 2015, Summerlott allegedly created and submitted dozens of fake electronic invoices that were supposedly from various insurance companies that regularly conducted business with Fairway. Summerlott would then prepare company checks tied to Fairway’s company account to pay these fabricated invoices. The DIFS investigation found that this enabled Summerlott to retrieve the fake payments and divert them to a personal bank account.
In addition, DIFS’ investigation found that Summerlott refinanced 40 insurance policies that Fairway clients had previously paid in full. As a result, Fairway received checks from third-party financing agencies to cover the cost of the insurance premiums. Summerlott used those payments to cover up the massive company losses that accrued as a result of her fake invoice scheme, DFS said.
Summerlott was arrested Feb. 27, 2017, and transported to the Broward County Jail. She was charged with four first-degree felonies, including organized scheme to defraud, grand theft, criminal use personal ID and diverting insurance trust funds.
This case will be prosecuted by the Broward State Attorney’s Office, 17th Judicial Circuit. If convicted, Summerlott faces up to 30 years in prison.