A St. George insurance agent was charged with multiple counts of identify fraud in connection to allegations of insurance fraud, victimizingÂ several Southern Utah residents.Â
Michael Craig Nebeker, 38, is charged with 28 counts of identity fraud, three counts of fraudulent insurance crimes, one count of forgery and one count of “pattern of unlawful activity.” He was summoned to 5th District Court on Sept. 24.
It’s not the first time Nebeker has been accused of committing insurance fraud as an agent.
Nebeker was an insurance agent at Farm Bureau Insurance Company in St. George, and the probable cause statement alleges Nebeker wrote more than 25 applications for life insurance without permission of the people named on the applications during October and November of 2017.Â
Several companies, including Mututal of Omaha, Americo Life and Columbian Life, received calls from victims who stated they had never applied for life insurance. Investigators confirmed the victims never met with Nebeker, and the polices were written without their permission, according to the report.
In addition, Nebeker was indicted by a Colorado grand jury in March for opening 83 fraudulent life insurance policies from July 2015 through September of 2016. The Coloradoan reports Nebeker used personal information from fellow members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to write the fraudulent policies.Â
According to the Utah Insurance Department, Nebeker’s license was deemed inactive in June of this year due to his “voluntary surrender.”
Armand Glick, director of the Utah Insurance Fraud Division, said Nebeker came to Utah and received his personal insurance license before the conduct in Colorado was reported or discovered.Â
Routine checks are conducted when insurance agents apply for licensure in Utah, said Steve Gooch, public information officer for the Utah Department of Insurance. Gooch said the verification is done by looking into a national database of insurance agents and their standings in each state.
“At some point, (Nebeker)Â moved to St. George and started engaging in similar conduct,” Glick said. “We were contacted by Colorado and tipped off to their investigation and did an investigation of our own.”
Glick said it’s typical for companies to offer high amounts of commission on life insurance policies.Â
“There’s an incentive to commit fraud,” Glick said.
The insurance industry is based on a system of trust, according to Glick, and agents have the ability to easily take advantage of some types of policies. In the case of life insurance, Glick said the fraud division often sees agents set up fake insurance policies, pay the initial premiums out of their own pockets, and collect a commission so high that it’s greater than the amount of the premiums.Â
In addition, it’s common for insurance companies to offer their agents bonuses or retention for selling multiple policies.Â
“It’s not a problem for those who don’t take advantage of the system, but certainly you could argue where people are of a criminal mindset, it’s a system that can be leveraged for wrong,” Glick said.Â
Nebeker will appear in 5th District Court before Jude Eric Ludlow on Oct. 23.Â
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