Home Insurance agent writes fake policies to earn trip to Mexico; gets time in prison instead

Insurance agent writes fake policies to earn trip to Mexico; gets time in prison instead

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A Virginia insurance and annuities agent was sentenced Monday to one year and three months years in prison for mail fraud after swindling his employer and clients.

Joseph O’Carroll III, 52, of North Chesterfield, pled guilty on Jan. 18.

According to court documents, from August 2017 through March 2020, O’Carroll scammed his employer for commissions and incentives by writing insurance policies for individuals without their consent or knowledge.

O’Carroll used the personal identifying information of clients, including their names, dates of birth, social security numbers and bank account numbers, to apply for fraudulent life insurance policies in their names and forged their signatures on the applications. O’Carroll created and maintained email addresses purportedly belonging to his clients, which he then listed on the insurance applications to facilitate communications with the insurance companies.

For one client, O’Carroll listed his own BB&T checking account from which the issuing insurance company was to automatically withdraw the premiums on applications for the policies. For other clients, O’Carroll listed the clients’ bank accounts. When the policies were issued, the insurance companies began withdrawing and attempting to withdraw premium payments from the listed bank accounts. While attempts to withdraw payments from O’Carroll’s bank account were unsuccessful, resulting in the cancellation of those policies, premiums were withdrawn from other client accounts, resulting in thousands of dollars being taken from them. On at least one policy, O’Carroll listed himself as the beneficiary.

During an Aug. 4, 2020, interview with the Virginia State Corporation Commission’s Bureau of Insurance, O’Carroll admitted that the client was “out of it” at the time due to the death of the client’s wife, and ultimately admitted that he wrote that policy and others to assist himself in winning a 2019 incentive trip to the Riviera Maya in Mexico from his employer.

In addition to applying for fraudulent life insurance policies in that client’s name, O’Carroll obtained most of the balance of an Employee Stock Ownership Plan account belonging to the client with the promise to reinvest the funds in another qualified retirement account. After gaining access to the client’s ESOP account portal, a request was submitted directing the ESOP servicer to remit two checks on Dec. 31, 2019: one to Equitable Financial Group at O’Carroll’s home address in the amount of $57,659.28, and a second in the amount of $4,627.92 to the client’s home address. O’Carroll deposited the $57,629.28 check into a bank account he controlled and kept and used the funds for his own personal expenses without the client’s knowledge or consent.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.

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