Claims Rep Steals $45K from Insurance Settlement

April 22, 2011

A claims rep for Nationwide in New York has been arrested for stealing $44,900 that should have been paid to a policyholder whose home burned down.

State police arrested Scott E. Wood, of Liverpool, earlier this month.

Fraud investigators say the North Lawrence homeowner was contacted by Wood after Nationwide has paid approximately $300,000 to settle the loss. At that point, the homeowner said he believed the claim had been fully settled and the money he received was the extent of what the insurer would pay him.

However, according to the homeowner, Wood told him that he could get more money, provided that the homeowner used the services of a lawyer known by Wood. He said Wood told him that he would be expected to split any additional money he received with the unnamed lawyer.

The homeowner said he agreed to the offer although he doubted he would get any additional money from the insurer.

Several weeks later, Wood appeared with a check from Nationwide for $89,800 made payable to the homeowner. As a claims representative, Wood was authorized to settle claims and write settlement checks on behalf of the insurer.

Wood told the homeowner that since the lawyer wanted to keep his name out of the case, the homeowner needed to write a personal check to Wood for half of the money and that the homeowner could keep the other half. Wood also told him that he should deny the transaction ever occurred if he was contacted by Nationwide.

The homeowner told Nationwide after meeting with Wood and giving him a check for $44,900. The insurer then notified the New York State Insurance Department’s Frauds Bureau.

Wood was fired by Nationwide after investigators learned that he had cashed the homeowner’s check for $44,900 and deposited the money into his personal bank account.

Wood was charged with third degree grand larceny. He faces up to seven years in prison if he is convicted.

Nationwide has paid the homeowner the portion of the claim settlement Wood is accused of taking.

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