North Carolina Insurance Fraud Round-Up: May

By | June 21, 2019

The North Carolina Department of Insurance announced multiple fraud enforcement actions during the month of May 2019.

Insurance fraud costs American consumers approximately $80 billion 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:

Goldsboro Man Arrested for Fraudulent Vehicle Damage Claim

Michael Deshawn Sawyer, 27, of Goldsboro, N.C., was arrested and charged with insurance fraud and attempting to obtain property by false pretense, both felonies, for lying about when damage occurred to his automobile, according to a May 10 statement from the North Carolina Department of Insurance.

Sawyer is accused by special agents with the NCDOI Criminal Investigations Division of falsely reporting that his 2015 Nissan Altima was damaged by gunfire on Nov. 29, 2018, one day after he purchased insurance on the vehicle.

According to the arrest warrant, the damage occurred on or before Nov. 27, 2018, one day before the insurance coverage was initiated on Nov. 28, 2018.

Special agents, along with Duplin County sheriff’s deputies, arrested Sawyer on May 1. He was given a $4,000 unsecured bond.

Kernersville Man Accused of Filing Fake Stolen Vehicle Claim with National General

Alexander Mitchell Harris, 20, of Kernersville, N.C., was arrested and charged with insurance fraud and attempting to obtain property by false pretense, both felonies, Causey said in a statement on May 15.

According to the arrest warrant, Harris filed a claim with National General Insurance Co. saying that his 2007 Dodge Ram pickup truck had been stolen when the vehicle had been sold to another individual.

The offense occurred between Sept. 12, 2018, and Feb. 14, 2019.

Special agents with the Department of Insurance’s Criminal Investigations Division, along with Division of Motor Vehicles officers and Forsyth County sheriff’s deputies, arrested Harris on May 7. He was given a $61,000 secured bond.

Burlington Man Charged with 3 Counts of Insurance Fraud for Altering Medical Bills

Chad Steven Neiswonger, 42, Burlington, N.C., was charged with three counts of insurance fraud and three counts of attempting to obtain property by false pretense, all felonies, NCDOI said in a May 15 statement.

Neiswonger submitted altered medical bills totaling $20,388 from Moses Cone and UNC to Jefferson Insurance Co. between July 23, 2018, and Nov. 1, 2018, the arrest warrant states.

Special agents with the Department of Insurance’s Criminal Investigations Division, along with Burlington police, arrested Neiswonger on May 7. He was given a $10,000 unsecured bond pending a May 30 appearance in Alamance County District Court.

Reidsville Woman Charged with Felony Insurance Fraud

Saphonia Denise Sellars, 26, of, N.C., was charged with felony insurance fraud, NCDOI said on May 16.

Sellars told Sentry Insurance Co. that her 2008 Ford Explorer had been stolen when the vehicle had been repossessed about two weeks before the reported theft, according to the arrest warrant.

The offense occurred between Dec. 29, 2018, and Jan. 22, 2019.

Special agents with the Department of Insurance’s Criminal Investigations Division, along with Eden police, arrested Sellars on May 8. She was given a $1,000 secured bond.

Raleigh Man Accused of Filing False Car-Theft Report

Anthony M. Watson, 45, of Raleigh, N.C., has been charged with insurance fraud, a felony, for falsely claiming his vehicle had been stolen, a May 22 statement from NCDOI said.

The arrest warrant states Watson falsely reported to National General Insurance Co. that his vehicle had been stolen after the vehicle was involved in a collision.

The offense occurred between April 2 and May 6.

Watson was arrested on May 19 and given a $12,500 secured bond.

Goldsboro Woman Accused of Filing False Hurricane Florence Claims

Tina L. Whitley, 53, of Goldsboro, N.C., was charged with insurance fraud over claims falsely related to Hurricane Florence, Causey reported on May 22.

Whitley is accused by special agents with the NCDOI Criminal Investigations Division of telling American Bankers Insurance Co. of Florida that Hurricane Florence caused damage to her heating, ventilation, and air conditioning unit in a mobile home insurance claim. According to the criminal summons, Whitley’s HVAC unit was in perfect condition.

Also, according to the criminal summons, Whitley falsely told the insurance company that her refrigerator was covered in mold and needed to be replaced when she’d actually sold the refrigerator. She is also accused of falsely saying her residence had been condemned and that a cleanup and restoration service told her that her walls, floor and insulation was covered in mold and needed to be replaced.

In addition, the criminal summons says that she claimed flying debris from the hurricane damaged her property, when the damage occurred before the storm.

The offense occurred on Sept. 17, 2018.

Special Agents served Whitley with the criminal summons on May 15.

Morganton Woman Accused of Submitting Fake Invoice to Nationwide

Tessa Mary Houck, 47, of Morganton, N.C., was arrested and charged with insurance fraud and attempting to obtain property by false pretense, both felonies Causey reported on May 22.

Houck provided a fake invoice to Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. in an attempt to obtain a $980 insurance settlement after a car damaged a fence on her property, according to the arrest warrant.

The offenses occurred between Feb. 12 and May 15.

Special agents with the NCDOI Criminal Investigations Division, along with Burke County sheriff’s deputies, arrested Houck on May 16. She was released on a written promise to appear in court.

About Amy O'Connor

O'Connor is the Southeast editor for Insurance Journal and associate editor of MyNewMarkets.com. More from Amy O'Connor

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