Santa Barbara insurance agent arrested after allegedly leaving a client uninsured during 2018 mudslides
News: 2019 Press Release
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — California Department of Insurance detectives today arrested insurance agent Mark Lynch, 40, on 13 felony counts of grand theft, embezzlement, and money laundering after allegedly collecting over $72,425 in insurance premium payments from five clients and leaving them uninsured including one client who was left uninsured during the Montecito mudslides in January 2018.
While that client did not suffer damage in the devastating slides that killed 20 people, the agent allegedly pocketed premium payments from five clients and used those funds for his personal benefit. Three clients were Santa Barbara homeowners and two clients were small business owners left uninsured against potential liability claims.
The Department of Insurance launched an investigation after receiving complaints from Lynch’s clients. The alleged misappropriation of premium payments took place between January 2016 and January 2017.
“Leaving homeowners without insurance during the Montecito Mudslides could have been devastating for these families and businesses,” said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. “The arrest of this agent should be a warning to anyone who puts consumers at risk to seek personal benefit. The Department of Insurance will continue to use every resource available to stop unscrupulous agents from preying on customers.”
The Department of Insurance has filed an accusation against Lynch and is seeking to revoke his insurance license.
Lynch’s was booked into Santa Barbara County jail and his bail has been set at $100,000. The Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the case.
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Led by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, the California Department of Insurance is the consumer protection agency for the nation's largest insurance marketplace and safeguards all of the state’s consumers by fairly regulating the insurance industry. Under the Commissioner’s direction, the Department uses its authority to protect Californians from insurance rates that are excessive, inadequate, or unfairly discriminatory, oversee insurer solvency to pay claims, set standards for agents and broker licensing, perform market conduct reviews of insurance companies, resolve consumer complaints, and investigate and prosecute insurance fraud. Consumers are urged to call 1-800-927-4357 with any questions or contact us at www.insurance.ca.gov via webform or online chat. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800-927-4357. Teletypewriter (TTY), please dial 800-482-4833.