Pa. Woman Accused of Stealing Insurance Payments from the Elderly

October 17, 2005

Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett announced that agents from the Attorney General’s Insurance Fraud Section have filed criminal charges against a Washington County woman accused of pocketing insurance premium payments from elderly citizens.

Corbett identified the defendant as Linda Stiles, 61, of Washington. Stiles was the owner and operator of the Stiles Insurance Agency, located in Washington, until August 2003, when her license was revoked by the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance.

Corbett said between 2002 and 2003 Stiles preyed on numerous elderly residents in Washington and surrounding counties, keeping thousands of dollars which was intended to pay for long-term care and home health care insurance.

“These victims handed over checks ranging from $580 to $10,200, believing that the payments would protect them against the future cost of long-term care or home health care,” Corbett said. “Instead of providing them with protection, the defendant took advantage of their trust, sold them non-existent insurance policies and then walked away with their money.”

Corbett said agents from the Attorney General’s Insurance Fraud Section identified at least 13 victims who were allegedly approached by Stiles to purchase long-term care or home health care insurance.

According to the criminal complaint, Stiles allegedly contacted the victims by telephone seeking to schedule appointments to discuss their long-term care or home health care insurance. Those telephone calls were followed by meetings in the victims’ homes.

In some cases, Corbett said Stiles allegedly told victims that she was affiliated with AFLAC Insurance, a company that Stiles did not represent. In other cases, victims say they were told that the policies Stiles’ was selling were superior to their current insurance.

Corbett said that in one instance, Stiles allegedly told an 85-year-old woman that her application for long term care insurance was subject to review and approval by the woman’s nephew and financial advisor. That review never took place, and Stiles allegedly deposited the victim’s check for $5,847 in her bank account.

In another case, an 85-year-old man provided Stiles with checks totaling $10,200, to pay the annual premium for long term care insurance. All of that money was allegedly deposited in Stiles’ bank account, but no payment was ever forwarded to the insurance company.

Corbett said Stiles also allegedly accepted payments of more than $5,400 on behalf of a mentally disabled woman to purchase long term care and home health care insurance, though none of that premium payment was ever submitted to the insurance company.

According to the criminal complaint, some victims were allegedly told that they could cancel their policies within a certain time period and receive a full refund. Instead, despite their repeated refund requests, the victims’ checks were allegedly deposited in Stiles’ bank account and little or no money was ever refunded.

Corbett said Stiles is charged with the theft of $51,868 from 13 victims. One of the victims is mentally disabled. The others range in age from 75 to 90 years old.

At the time of the alleged crimes, Stiles was licensed to represent AF&L Insurance, and her victims believed they were purchasing policies from that company.

The defendant is charged with 12 counts of theft by deception and 12 counts of theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received.

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