Additional felony charges filed against Orange County insurance agents in $10 million securities fraud scheme
News: 2021 Press Release
ORANGE, Calif. — Additional felony charges have been filed against Robert Andrew Lotter, 64, of Newport Beach, and Charles Albert Major, 72, of Irvine, who were arrested in November after allegedly defrauding their clients with high-risk investments. The additional charges include multiple counts of securities fraud violations with aggravated white collar and financial elder abuse enhancements after allegedly defrauding an additional 23 victims. The collective loss from Lotter’s and Major’s alleged fraud is more than $10 million to 64 victims.
"These agents violated their fiduciary responsibility and their clients’ trust by pushing consumers into high-risk investments with no regard to their well-being or financial futures,” said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. “My Department will continue to investigate this now $10 million scheme to uncover and protect additional victims who deserve better from their agents.”
On November 24, 2020, Lotter and Major were arrested on similar charges of securities fraud and burglary after allegedly defrauding more than 20 victims out of over $4 million. On May 17, 2021, the Department of Insurance announced additional charges were filed. With the new charges announced today, Lotter is charged with a total of 64 felony securities fraud violations and Major is charged with 29 felony securities fraud violations and six charges of residential burglary.
An investigation by the California Department of Insurance alleges that Lotter and Major fraudulently solicited and sold victims stock certificates in Lotter’s companies, eAgency, Inc. and Mymobilewatchdog, Inc. Following announcements of the arrests and charges, additional consumers contacted the Department and identified themselves as victims who also purchased stock in Lotter’s companies.
Lotter owned and operated an insurance agency, R.A. Lotter Insurance Marketing, Inc., and Major is a licensed insurance agent. Lotter and Major contacted clients of R.A. Lotter Insurance Marketing and used various schemes to fraudulently obtain victims’ private financial information in order to identify potential investors for Lotter’s high-risk investments including leading some victims to believe Lotter’s insurance agency was affiliated with the California State Teacher’s Retirement System.
Lotter also owns The TDS Group, a 403(b) plan administrator for school districts throughout California. Some TDS Group clients were victimized after they were contacted by TDS Group representatives, who are also insurance agents for R.A. Lotter Insurance operating under doing business as TDS Benefits & Insurance Services.
A continued investigation identified an additional 23 victims who lost more than $3,036,300 and were solicited in the same manner and using similar tactics as discovered during the previous investigation. These include Lotter's and Major’s failure to disclose pertinent information that investors should have known prior to investing, such as disclosures that eAgency and MyMobileWatchdog were high-risk investments.
Victims who did not have enough liquid assets to invest were encouraged by Lotter and Major to withdraw money from their and rollover their retirement accounts into self-directed IRAs, which were used to invest in Lotter’s companies. At least one educator was convinced to withdraw money from their pension to invest in Lotter’s companies.
Both eAgency, Inc. and Mymobilewatchdog, Inc., had poor financial statuses including unpaid financial obligations to prior investors. Lotter and Major did not make their clients aware of the poor financial statuses of the companies and they did not notify victims when the alleged lucrative partnerships fell through. Victims were led to believe their investments in eAgency, Inc. and Mymobilewatchdog, Inc. were still viable.
Lotter and Major are currently out on bail. This case is being prosecuted by the Major Fraud Unit of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
The Department is also taking the appropriate administrative action against the licensees and the various insurance agencies they managed. If you feel you’ve been victimized or know someone who has been victimized by either Lotter or Major, please call 714-712-7600.
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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.