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CA Department of Insurance

Insurance Commissioner Jones announces sentencing of Riverside County woman for Insurance Fraud

Dave Althausen
August 4, 2011 1:21 PM

On May 20, 2011, in the Superior Court of Riverside County, Enriqueta "Ricky" Heras, 46, of Thousand Palms was formally sentenced to 60-days in county jail and ordered to pay restitution and fines related to her fraudulent sale of pre-need funeral insurance policies to elderly Palm Spring area residents. Pre-need or pre-paid burial insurance is a specialized form of life insurance or annuity used to fund the predetermined expenses of a funeral, cremation or burial.

Upon completion of her jail sentence, she will be subject to three years formal probation. Restitution will be determined at a later date by the Riverside Probation Department. Heras' sentence is the result of a March 11, 2011, plea agreement whereby she pled guilty to one felony count of Grand Theft. Heras faced 17 felony and misdemeanor charges of Burglary, Theft, and Identity Theft.

Investigators discovered that Heras was unlicensed to transact insurance business in California due to a prior California criminal conviction. However, at the time, she was licensed by the State of Arizona to sell pre-need funeral policies - only in Arizona. The investigation determined that Heras misrepresented policy benefits, falsified application information, conducted unlicensed insurance transactions and committed identity theft. Victim losses are approximately $29,620.00.

This case was investigated and prosecuted under the CDI Life and Annuity Consumer Protection Program, which provides funding for investigations and grants to counties for the prosecution of perpetrators who defraud consumers with improper or non-existent life insurance products. The Investigation Division, Criminal Operations - Point of Sale [C.O.P.S.] Unit investigated and referred their findings to the Riverside County District Attorney's Elder Abuse Unit who successfully prosecuted the case.



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