Agent stole more than $7,200 in premium payments
July 16, 2012
HELENA, Mont. – An insurance agent from Butte, Mont., has pleaded guilty to felony theft by insurance fraud for stealing more than $7,200 of his client's premiums. Monica Lindeen, Montana's Commissioner of Insurance, charged Jeremy Hoscheid with theft for embezzling premiums from seven of his clients.
In April, Lindeen's office partnered with the Butte-Silver Bow County Attorney's office to file three felony charges against Hoscheid in state district court, including theft by insurance fraud and forgery. As a result of a plea agreement between Hoscheid and the Commissioner's office, Hoscheid pleaded guilty to theft by insurance fraud and the remaining charges were dropped.
At a July 12 sentencing hearing, Hoscheid received a three-year deferred sentence and agreed to pay full restitution and a $500 fine.
Lindeen's investigators say Hoscheid was able to embezzle his clients' premiums because payments were made with cashier's checks, blank checks, or cash. Hoscheid's clients trusted he would forward the payments on to the insurance company.
Lindeen reminded consumers be careful about how they pay their premiums.
"By far, most insurance agents are upstanding businesspeople, but we do find a bad apple from time to time," said Lindeen. "No matter how much you trust your insurance agent, you should never pay your premiums in cash directly to your agent. Blank checks and cashier's checks are just as risky. Always make your payments out to the company, not your agent."
Hoscheid operated out of Farm Bureau Financial Services' Butte office from 2009 to the fall of 2011. Farm Bureau began an internal investigation into Hoscheid's dealings in September 2011 after receiving a complaint from one of Hoscheid's victims. When Farm Bureau's audit uncovered a suspicious pattern of missed payments, the company wrote-off the premiums stolen from Hoscheid's victims and notified Lindeen's office.
Because Farm Bureau wrote-off the victims' stolen premiums, Hoscheid will pay the court-ordered restitution directly to Farm Bureau.
For more information of the Commissioner's efforts to root out fraud in securities and insurance, visit csi.mt.gov, follow the Commissioner's office on Facebook, or call 1-800-332-6148.