North Carolina Insurance Fraud Round-Up: January, February

March 13, 2019

The North Carolina Department of Insurance announced multiple fraud enforcement actions during the first two months of 2019.

Insurance fraud costs American consumers approximately $80 billion dollars a year. According to North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey, fraud costs North Carolinians between 15 and 20 cents of every dollar paid on insurance premiums — and it’s getting worse.

“Insurance fraud affects our economy. Not only does it damage insurance companies, it cheats businesses and consumers too,” Causey said. “This kind of white-collar crime is unacceptable. That’s why I’ve doubled the number of Special Agents to investigate insurance fraud. Cracking down on fraud will put more money in the pockets of businesses and consumers.”

Details of the incidents, as reported by NCDOI, are as follows:

Durham Man Faces Charges Over Submitting Duplicate Claims

Djuan Colby Mitchell, 29, of Durham, N.C., was arrested and charged with felony insurance fraud and felony obtaining property by false pretense, according to a Jan. 3, 2019 statement from Causey.

According to the arrest warrant, Mitchell is accused of falsely obtaining $1,270 by submitting duplicate auto insurance claims to both Progressive Insurance and The General Insurance Company. The offenses occurred between March 29, 2018, and June 25, 2018.

Durham police arrested Mitchel on Dec. 27 in Durham County. He was given a $5,000 unsecured bond.

Winston-Salem Man Accused of Filing Fraudulent Claim with GEICO

Nicholas McFarland, 25, of Winston-Salem, N.C. was arrested and charged with felony insurance fraud, NCDOI reported on Jan. 3.

According to the arrest warrant, McFarland filed an auto policy claim on Aug. 31, 2017, for damages to a 2005 Mustang with GEICO knowing that he had previously filed damages for the vehicle with National General Insurance Co. on May 12, 2017.

Special agents with the Department of Insurance’s Criminal Investigations Division say that McFarland switched from National General to GEICO after National General denied the initial claim.

Winston-Salem police arrested McFarland on Dec. 28. He was given a $2,500 unsecured bond.

Texas Man Arrested for Theft of $83K from Insurer

Andrew Bryant Belk, 29, of Frisco, Texas was arrested on charges of embezzling $83,196 from the insurer he worked for between December 2015 and March 2016, according to an Jan. 30 statement from Causey.

Bryant was charged with 16 counts of felony embezzlement and 16 counts of felony conspiracy to embezzle funds from IAT Insurance Group Inc. while working for the insurance company.

Four others were also charged with felony conspiracy – Duvontae Daquon Covington, 26, of 9301 Reedybrook Crossing, Apex; Devonte Montez Jackson, 26, of Americus, Ga.; Amara Matrell Sturkey, 25, of Marion, S.C.; and Jordan Anthony Reaves, 28, of Atlanta.

Special Agents with the Department of Insurance’s Criminal Investigations Division, along with Wake County sheriff’s deputies and Durham police, cooperated in making the arrests.

Belk, Sturkey and Covington were arrested on Jan. 24. Jackson was arrested on Jan. 29. Reeves was arrested Jan. 30.

Belk was placed under a $30,000 secured bond and given a Feb. 14 date in Wake County District Court. Sturkey was placed under a $3,000 secured bond pending a Feb. 14 court date. Covington was given a $5,000 unsecured bond and a Feb. 18 court date. Jackson was placed under a $2,000 secured bond and given a Feb. 19 court date. Reeves was placed under a $10,000 secured bond and given a Jan. 31 court date.

The investigation is ongoing, and more arrests are expected.

Goldsboro Woman Charged with Insurance Fraud

Annie Darlene Bell, 49, of Goldsboro, N.C., was charged with felony insurance fraud and arrested, a Jan. 30 statement from NCDOI said.

According to the arrest warrant, Bell added a 2008 Acura to a Progressive Insurance Co. auto policy knowing that damage to the car occurred before the addition was made. The offense occurred between Nov. 12, 2018, and Dec. 12, 2018.

Special agents with the Department of Insurance’s Criminal Investigations Division arrested Bell on Jan. 15. She was given a $5,000 unsecured bond.

Laurinburg Woman Accused of Filing False Claim with Progressive

Amber Lashae Morrison, 31, of Laurinburg, N.C., was arrested and charged with insurance fraud and attempting to obtain property by false pretense, both felonies, according to a Feb. 5 statement from Causey.

Special agents with the Department of Insurance’s Criminal Investigations Division accuse Morrison of falsely telling Progressive Casualty Insurance Co. that her 2015 Malibu was damaged by a tree during a hurricane.

The damage had previously been reported to a different insurance company as the result of a 2017 hit-and-run crash, according to the arrest warrant. The previous company had already paid the claim. However, the damage had not been repaired, the warrant says.

The offense occurred on Sept. 15, 2018. Morrison was arrested on Jan. 16 and released on a written promise to appear in court.

Charlotte Man Accused of Filing Fraudulent Auto Claim

Kahlisemon Da Aru Anwar Ortiz, 34, Charlotte, N.C., was arrested and charged with felony insurance fraud, according to a Feb. 6 statement from Causey.

Special agents with the NCDOI Criminal Investigations Division accuse Ortiz of falsely claiming lost wages as a result of an automobile accident. Ortiz claimed he was employed by and lost wages from Get a Gryp Fitness in Brooklyn, N.Y., a company that does not exist, according to the arrest warrant.

The offense occurred on Aug. 15, 2018. Ortiz was arrested on Jan. 24 and given a $1,000 unsecured bond pending a Feb. 14 court date in Mecklenburg County.

Georgia Accused Man Accused of Conspiracy to Embezzle

Christopher Shawn Brice, 27, of Marietta, Ga., was charged with two counts of felony conspiracy, NCDOI reported on Feb. 14.

Special agents with the NCDOI Criminal Investigations Division accuse Brice of conspiring with Andrew Bryant Belk to embezzle funds from IAT Insurance Group. Belk was previously arrested.

The offense occurred between Feb. 2, 2016, and March 14, 2016.

Special agents and Wake County deputies arrested Brice on Feb. 5. He was given a $10,000 secured bond.

Timberlake Man Accused of Providing False Info for Auto Claim

Jimmy Edward Brown, 36, of Timberlake, N.C., was arrested and charged with felony insurance fraud, NCDOI reported on Feb. 14.

Special agents with NCDOI’s Criminal Investigations Division accuse Brown of giving Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Co. false information when filing an automobile policy claim.

According to the arrest warrant, Brown told the insurer that his car had been stolen at the time of an accident. Agents discovered Brown permitted an acquaintance to drive the car when the accident happened.

The offense occurred between June 25-30, 2018.

Garner Man Arrested for $79K in Renters’ Insurance Fraud

Dwight Eugene Bell Jr., 30, of Garner, N.C., faces multiple charges involving renters’ insurance policies, according to a Feb. 19 statement from Causey.

Bell is charged with five counts of felony insurance fraud, three counts of felony obtaining property by false pretense, two counts of felony attempting to obtain property by false pretense, felony possession of a card forgery device, felony conspiracy, and misdemeanor possession or manufacture of a fraudulent ID.

According to the arrest warrants, Bell provided fraudulent receipts, falsely reported items as stolen, and conspired with others in an attempt to obtain $79,082 in renters’ insurance claims from State Farm Fire Casualty Insurance Co.

The offenses occurred between Oct. 31, 2017, and Nov. 15, 2018.

Special agents with the Department of Insurance’s Criminal Investigations Division, along with Johnston County deputies and Garner police, arrested Bell on Feb. 7. He was given a $75,000 secured bond.

Further arrests are expected as the investigation continues.

Georgia Man Charged with Conspiracy to Embezzle

Sheldon James May, 27, of Columbus, Ga., was arrested and charged with felony conspiracy, according to a Feb. 20 statement from Causey.

Special agents with the Department of Insurance’s Criminal Investigations Division accuse May of conspiring with Andrew Bryant Belk to embezzle money from IAT Insurance Group Inc. Belk was arrested earlier.

The offense occurred between March 8-9, 2016.

Special agents and Wake County deputies arrested May on Feb. 7. He was given a $3,000 secured bond.

Saint Pauls Woman Accused of False Renters’ Insurance Claim

Melissa Anne Oldfield, 25, of Saint Pauls N.C, was charged with insurance fraud and attempting to obtain property by false pretense, both felonies, NCDOI reported on Feb. 20.

Special agents with the Department of Insurance’s Criminal Investigations Division accuse Oldfield of providing a misleading statement and a false handwritten diagnostic report to USAA Insurance to support a renters’ insurance claim that stated two television sets were damaged by an electrical surge after Hurricane Florence.

The offense occurred on Sept. 13, 2018.

Oldfield was served a criminal summons on Feb. 1 and ordered to appear in Robeson County District Court on Feb. 25.

Kannapolis Woman Accused of Filing False Claims with Progressive

Stephanie Blackwood, 34, of Kannapolis, N.C. was arrested and charged with two counts of insurance fraud and two counts of attempting to obtain property by false pretense, all felonies, Causey said in a statement on Feb. 20.

According to the arrest warrants, Blackwood filed two false claims with Progressive Insurance Co. for damage to a vehicle. The first claim was filed before the policy went into effect. The second involved a claim that had previously been reported.

The offenses occurred between Aug. 16, 2018, and Oct. 23, 2018.

Special agents with the Department of Insurance’s Criminal Investigations Division and Kannapolis police arrested Blackwood on Feb. 11. She was given a $2,000 secured bond.

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