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CA Department of Insurance

Former insurance agent scams elderly members of First AME Church

News: 2015 Press Release

For Release: September 17, 2015
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Email Inquiries: cdipress@insurance.ca.gov
Former insurance agent scams elderly members of First AME Church
Employee and trustee of the oldest African-American church in LA befriended and stole more than $100,000 from senior church members

CONVICTION/SENTENCING UPDATE

Constance Gail Fortune pleaded guilty on September 14, 2015 to one felony count of grand theft by embezzlement and one felony count of theft from an elder or dependent adult. Fortune was sentenced to five years formal probation, one year in county jail, four years in state prison sentence (suspended), and ordered to pay $179,513.46 restitution to victims, including insurance companies.


LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Constance Gail Fortune, 61, was arraigned today in Los Angeles Superior Court and charged with three felony counts of grand theft and one felony count of financial elder abuse for allegedly scamming seniors, many of whom were members of First AME Church, out of more than $100,000.

Department of Insurance investigators uncovered evidence that Fortune, a licensed agent at the time, sold homeowners, auto and life insurance policies to numerous consumers, but never actually purchased policies and stole their premiums. Fortune's alleged illegal activities occurred over a two-year period and left consumers with no coverage and at considerable financial risk.

"Fortune's criminal enterprise is reprehensible," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Fortune violated her fiduciary responsibility when she used her position as a licensed agent and trusted member of the Los Angeles community to take advantage of seniors."

Fortune, a trustee and former spokesperson for First AME Church, hosted meetings and met with fellow church members and others to market insurance products. She fabricated bogus insurance documents on official insurance company letterhead in an effort to give consumers the appearance that the policies were legitimate. Fortune used consumers' premiums to pay for her personal expenses, including lease payments for her insurance office and rent for her apartment.

The Department of Insurance is encouraging anyone who purchased an insurance product with Constance Fortune to contact CDI Detective Virgil De Los Santos at (323) 278-5000. Her insurance license has been inactive since January 30, 2013.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office Elder Abuse Unit is prosecuting the case. This case is being investigated and prosecuted under the Life and Annuity Consumer Protection Program (LACPP). LACPP provides grant funds to counties for the prosecution of financial abuse in life insurance and annuity product transactions.

Constance Fortune was arrested on April 8 and was arraigned at the Superior Court of Los Angeles on Aril 10. Her court date is set for May 4, 2015 and will not be released on bail at this time. Fortune faces up to five years in state prison if convicted.

Media Notes:



The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $289 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 $394 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance web site at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.HELP or 213.897.8921. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.

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