Brokers face charges in insurance fraud schemes.
Alicia Holbrook-Bloink, 44, a resident of Livingston County, Michigan, used her company, Holbrook Insurance Agency, LLC in Iosco Township to embezzle $375,744, Assistant Attorney General Ashley Schwartz testified at a hearing leading to charges against the business owner. Holbrook-Bloink was ultimately charged with conducting a criminal enterprise and four counts of identity theft. She is also charged with two counts each of embezzlement of over $100,000 and false filing of a tax return in connection with her insurance fraud scheme.
“In the beginning, Holbrook would take clients’ money who paid in full and would then forge financial agreements with the insurance underwriter who would ensure the client had the policy issued while she used their money,” Schwartz testified. “Frequently the finance contracts were not paid, and the insurance was canceled, often without the clients knowing.” Schwartz said Holbrook-Bloink “eventually stopped forging financial agreements and would just steal the clients’ money without attempting to do a finance agreement or issue an insurance policy.”
Holbrook-Bloink stands accused of defrauding her clients of approximately $75,000 in 2015, $106,000 in 2016, $191,000 in 2017 and $3,744 in 2018 before the insurance company was shut down by regulators with the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services. She faces up to 20 years in prison and restitution if convicted.
In similar news, New York insurance broker Brian Bartz, 38, was recently charged with wire fraud, attempted wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, charges that also carry a maximum 20 years in federal prison. He has been accused of defrauding investors out of more than $950,000.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Meghan K. McGuire, handling the case, said that Bartz “had worked for a number of agencies during the past five years: Benjamin Hollamby Agency, which sold life insurance policies on behalf of Nationwide Life Insurance Company; the Banker’s Conseco Life Insurance Company; Mass Mutual Life Insurance Company; and the Lavoro Group via Mass Mutual, located in Rochester. The general practice of these companies was to offer monetary commissions and/or bonuses to their agents when agents sold life insurance policies.”
According to the complaint, Bartz would “submit false applications for life insurance policies to the insurance companies on behalf of individuals who were not aware of these applications. The applications included individuals’ means of identification without their knowledge or consent. In order to avoid detection, Bartz used various victims’ bank accounts to pay the premiums for the unauthorized policies. Between 2015 and 2020, Bartz defrauded or attempted to defraud a number of life insurance companies and dozens of investors out of more than $950,000.”
After an annual audit was conducted by Nationwide which flagged the suspected insurance fraud, in October 2019, FBI agents executed a search warrant on the contents of his personal email and found “on multiple occasions, Bartz received emails from Nationwide that were addressed to and intended for prospective policy holders but were sent directly to the defendant’s email address. The emails contained a link to a website application that prospective policy holders were supposed to complete, electronically sign, and submit to Nationwide. These emails were sent shortly before Nationwide received completed applications for these individuals.”
In addition to defrauding insurance companies, Bartz attempted to defraud individuals through a Ponzi scheme. “The defendant targeted individuals that he either already had years-long relationships with as their life insurance agent or who were referred to Bartz as a trusted life insurance/investment agent,” according to court documents.