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CA Department of Insurance

Former insurance agent and lawyer accomplice arrested for $1.2 million senior scam

News: 2017 Press Release

For Release: October 20, 2017
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
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Former insurance agent and lawyer accomplice arrested for $1.2 million senior scam
Authorities looking for additional victims or anyone with information
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Former insurance licensee Brett E. Lovett, 46, of Camarillo, and alleged accomplice Robert C. Burlison, 64, an attorney of La Canada, were arrested last week on multiple felony counts, including: theft, burglary, forgery, embezzlement, and conspiracy after allegedly defrauding at least nine victims of close to $1.2 million.

"Foisting investment scams on innocent congregation members is particularly appalling," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Lovett and Burlison allegedly preyed on seniors causing a collective loss of more than $1 million. I am committed to working with district attorneys across the state to aggressively pursue criminals who prey on consumers and vulnerable consumers, especially seniors."

A 15-month investigation conducted by the California Department of Insurance, Investigation Division, in Valencia, revealed that between 2011 and 2016, Lovett, a former licensee of the Department, allegedly defrauded at least nine victims of nearly 1.2 million dollars.

Burlison, a licensed California attorney and owner of Burlison Law Group in Pasadena, is alleged to have aided and conspired with Lovett in at least one of the crimes.

Several of Lovett's known victims are senior citizens whom Lovett allegedly met and befriended at a place of worship in Carpinteria, California. Other victims sought legal aid advice from Lovett through his Legal Aid Information business. Victims entrusted Lovett with their money for proposed investments that never existed, or for financial management purposes. Lovett then misappropriated the money for his own personal use and to re-pay some of his victims -- sometimes using his Power of Attorney and Promissory Notes to embezzle funds from victims.

Lovett has a history of embezzling money from members of the places of worship he attends. In 2007, doing business as Northwest Asset Fund, he was ordered to pay more than $675,900 in restitution, fines and sanctions by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Lovett never paid the fines or restitution. The CFTC entered a permanent injunction against Lovett, who never registered with the CFTC. Between October 2002 and August 2005, Lovett fraudulently solicited money from individuals, purportedly to trade commodity futures, through false promises of high returns from a low-risk investment.

Lovett was released from custody on $200,000 bail. Burlison, who was released from custody on $250,000 bail, is scheduled to appear for arraignment in Santa Barbara Superior Court on November 1, 2017. The Santa Barbara County District Attorney's office is prosecuting the case.

Anyone who has information on Lovett or Burlison, or believe they may have been a victim, is encouraged to contact the Santa Barbara District Attorney's Office at (805) 568-2312, or the California Department of Insurance, Investigation Division, Valencia Office at (661) 253-7500.

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Media Notes:

  • Lovett's booking photo
  • Burlison's arrest photo
  • The Santa Barbara District Attorney's Office filed a felony complaint with 28 criminal counts against Lovett for: 
    • PC 368(d) – Theft from elder or dependent adult; PC 503 - Embezzlement; PC 459 – Residential Burglary; PC 470(d) – Forgery; PC 484(G)(a) – Fraudulent Use of Access Card; PC 532(a) – Obtaining services by false pretenses; PC 507 – Embezzlement by Power of Attorney; California Corporations Code 25541 – Engaging in Fraudulent Securities scheme; and PC487(a) – Grand Theft. 
    • Additionally, Lovett was charged with PC 12022.6(a)(1) and (2) for excessive losses over $65,000 and $200,000 respectively, and PC 183.11(a)(1) and (2) for taking more than $500,000 from his client.
  • Two criminal counts were filed against Burlison for: PC 182(a)(1) – Conspiracy to commit a crime and PC 31 – Accessory.  

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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