Police allege insurance agent stole $1 million from elderly
March 17, 2011 by Celeste Gracey
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Last updated 9:45 a.m. PT
By CELESTE GRACEY
An Issaquah insurance agent was arrested in Factoria Tuesday, after allegedly stealing more than $1 million from elderly clients.
She was booked in jail on 21 counts of first-degree theft, according to the Washington Insurance Commissioner’s office, which investigated the incident.
The agent isn’t being named at this time, because she hasn’t been charged.
She allegedly had the victims, mostly ages 74 to 90, cash large portions of their annuities in Bankers Life, and then pocketed the money.
“This is an appalling abuse of trust,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “Vulnerable people trusted this agent with much of their life’s savings. And she just pocketed the money.”
She got the money by having the victims write checks to what they thought was an insurance company, who would then reinvest the money.
In reality, the victims were writing the initials and surnames of the agent’s two daughters. The agent deposited the checks, and then later transferred the money to her own account.
Her financial records show thousands of dollars spent on clothes, jewelry, and a trip to Mexico.
The agent also made large payments to online psychics, including $20,000 to one website in just one month.
The investigation began after a 90-year-old Renton woman complained to the insurance commissioner’s office. The agent returned the woman’s $25,000, but it was one of two complaints.
Investigators then found three other victims, including an 83-year-old Seattle man who had no idea the agent had taken his $352,000.
The thefts took place between 2007 and 2009. The agent resigned from Bankers Life in Jan. 2010.
The thefts also include an 80-year-old Bellevue man with $130,000 taken, a 75-year-old Seattle man, $60,000 taken, and a 74-year-old Renton woman, $484,500 taken.
The commissioner’s office is still looking into how liable Bankers Life is for the actions of the agents.
“We want to see justice done,” said Kreidler. “We also want to see if there’s any way to make these victims whole.