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CA Department of Insurance

Former Riverside agent convicted of grand theft in scheme targeting large retailer

News: 2016 Press Release

For Release: May 30, 2016
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Email Inquiries: cdipress@insurance.ca.gov
Former Riverside agent convicted of grand theft  in scheme targeting large retailer
Agent sold bogus surety bonds and pocketed client’s $334k in premiums

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — John Antonio Ruiz, 49, of Riverside, pleaded guilty to 11 felony counts of grand theft after selling $334,972 in bogus surety bonds and stealing the client's premium. His theft left a major retailer exposed to loss on a construction project.

Ruiz, doing business as Cornerstone Surety and Insurance Agency sold and issued multiple performance and payment bonds to a general contractor. The contractor unknowingly included the bonds with a winning bid for new store construction projects throughout the United States.

After the retailer attempted to satisfy liens filed by subcontractors, they discovered the surety bonds sold by Ruiz were bogus and they had no protection to satisfy the liens. The California Department of Insurance Investigation Division launched an investigation that revealed Ruiz did not have a valid agent license, had not remitted any of the collected premiums to the insurance company, and pocketed the money for personal expenses.

"Ruiz's theft of more than a quarter of a million in premiums left the contractor and the retail client at great financial risk," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "I have zero tolerance for dishonest agents or brokers that scam clients."

Ruiz is schedule for sentencing on July 15, 2016 in Riverside Superior Court. The California Attorney General is prosecuting this case.

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The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $310 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 website at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.4357. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.

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