For Immediate Release:
SAINT PAUL, MN — A Minnesota Department of Commerce Fraud Bureau criminal investigation resulted in halting a policy mill scam out of Brooklyn Center. Late yesterday, Arlesia Shannell Robinson was criminally charged with two counts of Aggravated Forgery in Hennepin County District Court for perpetrating an insurance policy mill scheme on unwitting consumers. The criminal complaint alleges Robinson, using an alias of Amelia Hall, claimed she was a representative of Esurance and sold fake automobile insurance policies beginning in at least October 2013.
"We stopped this person because we found evidence that she used a false identity, forged fake policies, and allegedly stole premium payments, leaving Minnesota consumers without car insurance when they needed it,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “To help prevent these scams, Minnesota consumers should always check the Commerce website to ensure that the person they purchase insurance from is, in fact, a licensed insurance agent.”
During its investigation, Commerce Fraud Bureau agents uncovered evidence that Robinson was creating forged insurance declaration pages and purporting to unsuspecting victims that the insurance documents were legitimate. Posing as an Esurance agent, Robinson operated under the alias Amelia Hall and accepted money up-front from individuals wanting to purchase insurance. Commerce Fraud Bureau agents then executed a search warrant at Robinson’s Brooklyn Center residence on Friday, February 28, 2014, with the assistance of the Brooklyn Center Police Department and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. Based on the evidence obtained during the investigation and as a result of the execution of the search warrant, Robinson was arrested and booked into the Hennepin County Jail.
Robinson’s victims were unaware that their auto insurance was fake and believed that they had purchased legitimate automobile insurance, only to later find out, after being involved in a traffic accident, that they did not have insurance.
If convicted, Robinson faces a potential maximum penalty of 10 years in prison or $20,000 for each of the Aggravated Forgery counts. Any sentence would be determined by a state district court judge.
How to protect yourself against fake auto insurance
This is the third policy mill scheme the Commerce Fraud Bureau has stopped and successfully charged in the past six months. Typically, the scheme involves an individual posing as a trusted insurance agent, who uses the consumer’s information to apply for auto insurance policies online. Many auto insurance companies issue temporary insurance cards upon completion of an online application, which the criminals give to consumers as “proof” that they have purchased insurance policies. The criminals then pocket the consumer’s cash payment for their premium and the insurance is cancelled by the insurance company due to non-payment, leaving consumers without their money and insurance.
To protect yourself against insurance policy mill scams, check the Department’s License Lookup Tool to make sure the company or individual you are or will be working with is licensed to do business in Minnesota. It is also recommended that consumers contact the insurance company directly to confirm that the agent you are working with is authorized to sell insurance for that company. If they are not licensed to do sell insurance in Minnesota, do not give them any personal information – credit card or bank information – or cash, and report the individual or company to the Commerce Department. If you receive notification that your policy has been canceled due to lack of payment, contact the insurance company directly and ask why your policy has been cancelled.
Report Insurance Fraud
Insurance fraud is a crime with serious criminal consequences. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, insurance fraud is the most costly white collar crime in the United States, behind tax evasion.
The Minnesota Department of Commerce receives tips from companies and individuals that suspect fraud. Minnesotans can report insurance fraud anonymously by calling the Commerce Fraud Bureau at 1-888-FRAUDMN (1-888-372-8366).
More information about insurance fraud in Minnesota can be found on the Minnesota Department of Commerce website.
If you have questions about your policy or possible complaints, call the Department of Commerce Consumer Response Team (CRT). The CRT is comprised of investigators who respond to consumer phone calls specifically about insurance.
Consumer Response Team
Minnesota Department of Commerce
1-800-657-3602 (MN only outside metro area)
Criminal Complaint/IndictmentArlesia Shannell Robinson (.pdf)