​For release on August 25, 2015  CONTACT:
Christopher Kwok, Deputy District Attorney
Insurance Fraud Unit
Economic Crimes Group
(408) 792-2916    FORMER BROKER GETS JAIL FOR SELLING PHANTOM INSURANCE   A former insurance broker was recently sentenced to six months in jail for a scam in which he embezzled more than $30,000 from South Bay customers, but didn’t actually use their money to buy insurance.   Ernie Boyd Morris, 46, of Marina, Ca., received the sentence last week from the Hon. Deborah Ryan after he pleaded no contest on June 4 to thirteen counts of identity theft, grand theft and theft of funds by a person acting as an agent or broker.   “It was very fortunate that the victims did not need to make a claim on any of the policies because none of the victims actually had insurance coverage as a result of the fraud," prosecutor Christopher Kwok said.   Morris tended to target his own friends for his scheme, which lasted at least from 2010 to 2011. He would convince them to purchase insurance through him. For their money, he would tell them that they were buying auto, business, or workers’ compensation insurance policies.  However, Morris pocketed the money without buying his clients’ policies, while falsely telling them that they were now covered. In some cases, he would provide victims with fraudulent certificates of insurance.
The California Department of Insurance began investigating Morris in March 2011 when they received a complaint that he may have been selling insurance without a valid license. It turned out that his license had expired years before, and he was using licenses of acquaintances to do business. The investigation uncovered seven victims in Santa Clara County and three in Monterey County, for which he was convicted and sentenced earlier this year.   Consumers can check the license status of insurance brokers and agents through the California Department of Insurance’s licensing hotline at 1-800-967-9331 or their website.   ###

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