Insurance Commissioner Jones Announces Guilty Plea Of Riverside County Woman For Grand Theft
News: 2011 Press Release
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones today announced that Terri Anne Sammons, 41, has plead guilty to one count of grand theft in a scheme that included bilking the Insurance Agency where she was employed and unsuspecting policyholders out of their premium payments. Sammons was sentenced to 90-days in the custody of Riverside Sheriff and was ordered to pay $6,118.00 in restitution to the victims and surrender her insurance license to the Department of Insurance.
"Any Licensed Insurance Agent that steals from policyholders will be fully investigated, prosecuted and kept from selling insurance ever again," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Bilking Californian's out of their premium payments leaves consumers extremely vulnerable and potentially without coverage should they get into an accident, have a health issue or suffer damage to their home and it will not be tolerated."
A CDI investigation determined Sammons, who was employed by the Beissel Insurance Agency in 2005 and 2006, stole auto and homeowner's insurance cash premium payments made by Beissel Insurance customers at the agency's former Temecula office. (Tustin-based Beissel Insurance has since sold the Temecula office.) Sammons then diverted refunded insurance premiums and premiums received by the agency from escrow accounts that were intended for homeowners' policies and used these funds to replace the cash payments stolen from walk-in customers. Sammons also altered agency premium checks by changing the intended insured and policy number listed on the check and applying the checks to a different insured's policy to conceal the theft. In one instance, Sammons altered a premium check and diverted the monies to make a payment on her personal credit card.
The amount of theft is estimated at $12,780. The scheme was discovered when a homeowner received a cancellation notice for her policy when funds were already paid to Beissel Insurance from an escrow account. A review of the records showed that Sammons had actually diverted these funds to different customer's policy which caused the cancellation.
After reviewing their records, the Beissels discovered numerous altered premium checks and diverted monies related to customer accounts handled by Sammons. The Beissels contacted affected customers and issued refunds to them. Sammons was charged with 18 felony counts in September 2010. Her insurance license was suspended by CDI in December 2010 pending the outcome of this case. Although she stipulated to the surrender of her license as part of this plea agreement, the Department of Insurance will pursue summary revocation of the insurance license as well.
The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $289 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $469 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance web site at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.HELP or 213.897.8921. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.