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Former life insurance agent sentenced to 15 years for elder financial abuse

News: 2018 Press Release

For Release: June 21, 2018
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Former life insurance agent sentenced to 15 years for elder financial abuse
Scammed at least five elderly victims out of over $1.8 million
SANTA ANA, Calif. — Brian Jared Smart, 41, a former life insurance agent, pleaded guilty to a dozen felony counts of theft after stealing over $1.8 million from at least five elderly clients. Smart was sentenced to 15 years in state prison and ordered to pay $1,810,508 in restitution to his victims.

"Smart's crimes are reprehensible and egregious, said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Smart gained his clients' trust in order to access their money and then heartlessly stole from them over a period of years. Thanks to the hard work of investigators at the Department of Insurance and the Orange County District Attorney's office, his victims have justice."

In 2008, the California Department of Insurance (CDI) Investigation Division received a request for assistance involving an elderly victim whose monthly interest and dividend payments had ceased.

The elderly victim trusted Smart to manage her money with promises that she would receive payments to meet her monthly living expenses. Not only had her payments stopped, Smart also did not provide legitimate records documenting what he did with the victim's money.

An investigation revealed that from 2005 to 2006, Smart, doing business as AIM/Smart and Smart Assets, LLC in Orange County, represented to his clients he would manage their money by investing in insurance annuities and other safe investments.

The investigation revealed Smart diverted more than $1,810,508 from five elderly victims into his own bank accounts and personal investments without their knowledge or approval. In 2006, Smart moved to Utah but continued to provide updates to his victims indicating their money was safe, earning interest, and issued some victims periodic interest or dividend payments.

By 2008, Smart stopped paying interest or dividends and did not comply with his victims' demands for the return of their money. Bank records show that Smart used the money to pay for personal living expenses and also invested in other high-risk investments on his own behalf. In September 2012, after a felony complaint was filed by the Orange County District Attorney, Smart was arrested by police in Lehi, Utah and extradited to Orange County by Investigators from CDI, Investigation Division's Criminal Operations - Point of Sale (COPS) Team.

Smart's life agent license was valid from August 17, 1999 to August 31, 2007, when it lapsed and was not renewed. This case was prosecuted by the Orange County District Attorney, under CDI's Life and Annuity Consumer Protection program (LACPP) which provides grant funds for the prosecution of financial abuse in life insurance and annuity transactions.  

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 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.

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