An insurance agent in St. George was charged with identity fraud on multiple cases related to allegations of insurance fraud that killed several residents of southern Utah.
Michael Craig Nebeker, 38, faces charges of identity fraud in 28 cases, fraudulent insurance crime in three cases, one for counterfeiting and one for “patterns of illegal activity”. He was summoned to the 5th District Court on September 24th.
It is not the first time that Nebeker has been accused of insurance fraud as an intermediary.
Nebeker was an insurance agent with the Farm Bureau Insurance Company in St. George, and the probable cause statement claims Nebeker wrote more than 25 life insurance applications in October and November 2017 without the permission of the people named on the applications.
Several companies, including Mututal of Omaha, Americo Life, and Columbian Life, received calls from victims who said they had never applied for life insurance. Investigators confirmed the victims never met with Nebeker, and the police were drafted without their permission, according to the report.
In addition, in March, Nebeker was charged by a grand jury in Colorado with opening 83 fraudulent life insurance policies from July 2015 to September 2016, write the fraudulent policies.
According to the Utah Insurance Department, Nebeker’s license was deemed inactive in June this year due to his “voluntary surrender”.
Armand Glick, director of the Utah insurance fraud division, said Nebeker came to Utah and obtained his personal insurance license before the conduct was reported or discovered in Colorado.
Routine checks are carried out when insurance agents apply for licensing in Utah, said Steve Gooch, Public Information Officer for the Utah Department of Insurance. Gooch said the verification is done by looking at a national database of insurance agents and their position in each state.
“At some point (Nebeker) moved to St. George and began similar behavior,” Glick said. “We were contacted by Colorado and notified of their investigation and conducted our own investigation.”
“A system that can be used for injustice”
Glick said it was typical for companies to offer high commissions on life insurance.
“There is an incentive to commit fraud,” said Glick.
According to Glick, the insurance industry is based on a system of trust and agents have the ability to easily take advantage of some types of policies. In the case of life insurance, Glick said, the fraud department often sees agents drafting fake insurance policies, paying initial premiums out of pocket, and collecting a commission so high that it exceeds the premium.
In addition, it is common for insurance companies to offer their agents bonuses or deductibles for the sale of multiple policies.
“It’s not a problem for those who don’t take advantage of the system, but you could certainly argue that people have a criminal mindset, it’s a system that can be wrongly exploited,” Glick said.
Nebeker will appear before Jude Eric Ludlow in the 5th District Court on October 23.
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