Criminal charges have been filed against a Potter County, Pa. insurance agent who is accused of stealing more than $21,000 in insurance premiums from clients for online gambling and other personal uses, according to Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett.
The Attorney General’s Insurance Fraud Section identified the defendant as Jon Bowen of Wellsboro. Bowen was a licensed insurance agent authorized to sell policies with his parents’ family owned business, Bowen Insurance Agency in Potter County.
According to investigators, between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2003, Bowen allegedly took insurance premiums from more than two dozen clients and then failed to forward the payments to the appropriate insurance companies. The alleged victims bought a variety of policies from Bowen including auto, business, homeowners, mobile homeowners, fire and commercial policies. Failure to forward the premiums to the insurance agencies meant that the policies were never officially activated leaving the consumers without coverage.
The alleged victims were mainly from Potter County and the surrounding areas including New York State.
Corbett said that Bowen allegedly sold policies to his customers telling them in some instances, that he could only accept cash payments. The customers claimed that Bowen told them in order to immediately activate their policies he could only accept a premium payment in cash. Additionally, Bowen allegedly claimed that if the consumer did not pay in cash the policy rates would go up significantly. In some cases, the alleged victims said they would leave Bowen’s office and proceed directly to an Automatic Teller Machine to withdraw the cash needed to make the premium payments.
“Our investigation determined that Mr. Bowen created an elaborate scheme that diverted the premiums of dozens of customers into his personal bank accounts to fund gambling and other personal activities,” Corbett said. “To hide the theft, Bowen allegedly created fraudulent insurance cards and documents that were in effect worthless. Consumers were led to believe that they had full coverage when their policies failed to exist.”
Corbett said the scheme was uncovered when customers filed claims only to find out that their policies were never activated. The Bowen Insurance Agency’s new owners made good on the alleged victims’ policies and subsequent claims.
Bowen was arrested and charged with one count each of insurance fraud, theft by deception and theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received. The defendant waived arraignment before Potter County Magisterial District Judge Lisa M. Burton. Bowen was released on $10,000 unsecured bail.
The case will be prosecuted in the Potter County Court of Common Pleas by Deputy Attorney General Gregg Shore of the Attorney General’s Insurance Fraud Section in Norristown.
Source: Pennsylvania Attorney General
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