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CA Department of Insurance

Los Angeles agent caught embezzling over $100,000 from employer and clients

News: 2016 Press Release

For Release: July 11, 2016
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
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Los Angeles agent caught embezzling over $100,000 from employer and clients
Investigators searching for additional victims

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Suren Hovhannisyan, 27, a licensed insurance agent of North Hollywood,was arrested at his residence on multiple felony counts of burglary, grand theft, and unauthorized use of access cards after allegedly scheming to embezzle over $100,000 from his employer and clients for his personal use.

"This agent's alleged crimes are reprehensible," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Licensed agents and brokers hold a position of trust and fiduciary responsibility. Hovhannisyan broke that trust and his pledge to follow the laws and regulations that govern his license with this department."

After receiving a complaint from Hovhannisyan's employer who suspected the embezzlement, the California Department of Insurance Investigation Division launched an investigation that revealed Hovhannisyan offered fictitious discounts to policyholders if they paid him in cash for their automobile insurance. Rather than remitting the cash payments to his employer, Hovhannisyan allegedly deposited the money into his mother's bank account for his personal use.

A search warrant of Hovhannisyan's residence also uncovered a notebook containing the names, Social Security numbers, and credit card numbers of dozens of other potential victims. Department investigators are working to identify and contact those victims.

Investigators found evidence that Hovhannisyan used the credit cards of some clients, without their permission, to pay the automobile insurance premiums of those who paid him with cash. One victim's credit card was charged 145 times to pay a total of $45,545 in insurance premiums for 80 other policyholders.

The department is requesting that anyone who purchased insurance from Hovannisyan and provided cash payment, credit card or Social Security numbers to contact the department's Investigation Division at (661) 253-7500.

Hovhannisyan was booked into Los Angeles County Jail. The Los Angeles District Attorney's office is prosecuting this case. Hovhannisyan faces up to six years in prison, if convicted on all charges. The department has taken administrative action to suspend Hovhannisyan's insurance license.

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Media Note:

Suren Hovhannisyan's booking photo can be found on CDI's Flickr site.

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 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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