Cedar Falls Area Insurance Agent Sentenced for Defrauding Insurance Companies
Melissa Williams receives 41 month sentence for Mail Fraud
Des Moines, June 26, 2014 – Melissa Ilene Williams, 46, of Dike, Iowa, the subject of a cooperative criminal investigation by both federal and state law enforcement officials, has been sentenced to 41 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution for fabricating and submitting life insurance policies to two separate insurance companies between July 2011 and January of 2012. Williams had pled guilty to one count of mail fraud on March 3, 2014. This conviction follows action by the Iowa Insurance Division to revoke Williams’ insurance producer’s license in November of 2013 because of insurance fraud.
Williams was sentenced in United States District Court in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on June 19, 2014, to 41 months of imprisonment and ordered to pay full restitution in the amount of $139,137.13 to Funeral Directors Life Insurance Company, a Texas based Insurance Company and $36,010.19 to National Guardian Life Insurance Company a Madison, Wisconsin Insurance Carrier. Upon her release, Williams will also be supervised by authorities for an additional three years.
The Insurance Division had found that during 2011 and 2012, Williams forged the signatures of people she knew on bogus life insurance policies and collected $170,292 in fraudulently obtained commissions from Funeral Directors Life Insurance Co. and National Guardian Life Insurance Co. Williams was under contract with both companies to sell preneed insurance policies to Iowa consumers. Preneed life insurance policies are intended to cover the cost of predetermined expenses associated with funerals, cremations and burials. Williams intentionally utilized her friends’ and families’ identifications without their authorization to fabricate preneed life insurance policy applications for the purpose of collecting advance commission payments as a result of the sales of such policies. Williams furthered her scheme by paying the initial premiums on the policies issued to these Iowa consumers as well as diverting and redirecting the insurance company correspondence back to herself.
Ms. Williams was sentenced on June 19, 2014 in United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa in a prosecution filed by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa. The prosecution was the result of a collaborative effort of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Iowa Insurance Fraud Bureau.
“Insurance fraud costs us all money,” said Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart. “It adds directly to the costs of insurance companies doing business and paying claims, which results in higher costs for us all as customers. Fraud can take many forms, such as the false policy placement that occurred here, arson, falsified theft, faked accidents and injuries. Fraud on insurance consumers can also directly impact seniors through deceptive marketing and producer sales practices. Insurance fraud in any variety will be investigated by my Fraud Bureau and we will work to bring insurance scammers to justice.”
The United States Attorney’s comments are at http://www.justice.gov/usao/ian/news/2014/jun_14/6_19_14_Williams.html
About the Iowa Insurance Division
The Iowa Insurance Division (IID) has general control, supervision and direction over all insurance and securities business transacted in the state, and enforces Iowa’s laws and regulations. The IID investigates consumer complaints and prosecutes companies, agents and brokers engaging in unfair trade practices. Consumers with insurance or securities-related questions or complaints may contact the IID toll free at 877-955-1212 or visit the division on the web at www.iid.state.ia.us.