HARRISBURG —Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced felony charges against 2 insurance agents in Allegheny and Westmoreland County for insurance fraud. In one case, an agent stole $26,247 from eight clients, including their life insurance proceeds, auto insurance premiums and even a loan. In the other case, the agent submitted 252 phony Medicare supplement policy applications and pocketed $88,636 in fraudulent commissions.
Travis Wingrove, 29, of University Drive, Dunbar, and Jeffrey Ingram, 53, of Meadow Oaks Drive, Allison Park, are charged with insurance fraud, theft by deception and identity theft.
“Insurance fraud hurts consumers across our Commonwealth and causes premiums to rise for law-abiding policyholders,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “In these cases, clients trusted agents to handle their policies and they betrayed that trust. We’ll prosecute anyone who breaks the law by stealing from clients or submitting phony insurance policies for their own profit.”
In Wingrove’s case, the Office of Attorney General’s Insurance Fraud unit began an investigation following a referral from the Pennsylvania Insurance Department. Investigators discovered that during Wingrove’s employment at Rosemary Skaggs’ State Farm Insurance Agency in Mount Pleasant, Westmoreland County, he stole $26,247.73 from clients between April 2013 and April 2015.
Wingrove used a variety of scams, including stealing from clients’ life insurance policies, taking their auto insurance premiums and never depositing them, and in one case, scamming a client to apply for a $2,775 loan on his life insurance policy that Wingrove stole and cashed for himself.
In another scam, Wingrove processed a life insurance policy dividend for $2,000 – $1,800 more than what the policy holder was entitled to, then had the client send Wingrove the $1,800, which was never returned to State Farm.
Several of the clients scammed by Wingrove were over 70 years old, and insurance fraud experts note that older citizens are often targeted for financial scams and insurance fraud.
Attorney General Shapiro thanked the Insurance Department for the referral and noted that collaboration between the executive branch of state government and his office was ongoing and beneficial for Pennsylvanians.
Wingrove was arraigned this morning on the charges, and a preliminary hearing was ordered for September 6 before District Judge Charles Moore in Westmoreland County.
In the second case, Ingram submitted 252 fake Medicare supplement policy applications between March and October 2016 – and earned $88,636 in advance commissions that he never should have received since the policy applications were all phony.
Employed as an agent with Success Financial Solutions in Greentree, Allegheny County, Ingram submitted phony applications for Medicare supplement insurance to the Medico Insurance Company, which paid him commissions. Ingram either created personal information to fill in on the policy forms, or obtained it from sources like the phone book.
The scam was uncovered after Medico had several policies returned undeliverable by mail, with at least one notice indicating the policy applicant had died. Other customers contacted Medico to say they never applied for these policies, nor were they qualified due to their age. Banking information on these applications was also fake.
Ingram was arraigned on the insurance fraud charges yesterday by District Judge William Wagner in Allegheny County, who set a preliminary hearing for September 6.
Senior Deputy Attorney General Jerome Orie will prosecute Ingram and Senior Deputy Attorney General Dennis Kistler will prosecute Wingrove.
“These cases remind us that when you’re taken advantage of, it’s often by people we trust,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “I’m encouraging Pennsylvanians who believe they’ve been scammed in an insurance fraud to call us at 717-787-0272 or email us at email@example.com . Let us go after the scammers and protect you.”