Unlicensed California Agent Allegedly Steals $174K in Premiums

February 25, 2019

Connie Free, 34, of Moreno Valley, Calif., is scheduled to be arraigned today on 18 felony counts including grand theft and forgery after allegedly stealing at least $174,000 in insurance premiums from seven different victims.

The former insurance agent allegedly targeted port truck drivers who lost their operator authority as a result of not having insurance.

After receiving consumer complaints, the California Department of Insurance launched an investigation, which revealed Free, acting as “Justyce Insurance” or “Pure Justyce Insurance Agency,” allegedly accepted premium payments from her victims and failed to remit payments to insurance carriers, instead converting the payments for her own use.

Between September 2017 and July 2018, at least seven victims reportedly paid Free for coverage that was not placed with an insurer.

The investigation found Free would establish contact with her victims by soliciting them through telephone, email or a post card offering competitive quotes with attractive rates on commercial vehicle insurance. Free would then gather the victim’s vehicle information, provide a quote for the desired coverage, and if accepted, have the victim make a cash payment directly into her bank account, allegedly so she could pay the carrier to immediately establish a policy for them.

Some victims reportedly received fraudulent certificates of insurance and insurance identification cards.

Free’s victims were primarily truck drivers and small businesses in the trucking or charter bus industry. Some of Free’s victims discovered that their authority to operate as a motor carrier was suspended by reviewing their own status on either the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or Uniform Intermodal Interchange and Facilities Access Agreement websites.

In some cases, these victims were turned away when attempting to haul loads from or return chassis to port terminals or service client sites. Other victims had to decline jobs after learning Free failed to place coverage. These victims were forced to find and pay for other policies to meet the coverage requirements that would allow them to resume their businesses, causing them to incur losses over and above the premium amounts provided to Free for non-existent policies. Free failed to provide refunds, and in most circumstances refused to even respond to inquiries made by her victims.

Free was arrested Jan. 10 and was booked into Riverside County Jail and bail was set at $198,552. The case is being prosecuted by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office. Free’s insurance license was suspended effective May 21, 2018 due to a non-insurance related criminal case.

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