Pasadena insurance broker allegedly commits identity theft for unearned commissions
News: 2019 Press Release
PASADENA, Calif. — Helen Lee, 39, a licensed insurance broker, has been charged with nine felony counts of identity theft after allegedly using others’ personal health information to forge fraudulent agent of records forms in the hopes of receiving unearned commissions.
“When this licensed broker allegedly used Craigslist to obtain personal health information in a scheme to line her own pockets, the department stopped her," said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. “My department is committed to protecting Californians’ privacy against insurance crime.”
Lee, co-owner of Joany Inc. and California Health Benefits Exchange, which were billed as health concierge services companies, filed more than 65 agent of record change forms in order to claim broker status with members already enrolled in a health plan between January 2017 and March 2017.
Lee allegedly created an online Craigslist survey, marketed as an Online Health Insurance Research Study, to obtain personal identifying information. Lee paid participants $50 if they met certain criteria and texted a photo of their member ID card which included effective dates of coverage.
The survey had a HIPPA compliant logo and participants were told it was only to help consumers with their health insurance needs and that the information would not be sold or provided to any third party. However, participants’ information was used to change their agent of record and their signatures were forged on the documents. The survey specifically targeted consumers who purchased insurance through Covered California provided they did not receive health care through their employer and were not part of Medicaid, Medicare or VA health insurance.
Lee’s illicit activities stretched nationwide. CDI is assisting other affected states’ insurance departments in their investigations. If anyone has information on these investigations, we urge them to call the department at 323-278-5000.
Lee’s license is being reviewed by CDI’s Legal Division for appropriate action. The case is being prosecuted by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
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.