The Ohio Department of Insurance has revoked the insurance education provider contract and license of an agent the department found to be falsifying continuing education credit hours for hundreds of insurance agents.
George Armstrong, owner of Professional Education Corporation (P.E.C.), voluntarily agreed to surrender his Ohio insurance licenses. As a result of a departmental enforcement investigation, P.E.C., located in Hamilton, Ohio, no longer has authority to conduct pre-licensing and continuing education classes for Ohio insurance applicants and agents.
The investigation revealed from 2006 to 2008, Armstrong provided hundreds of insurance agents with bogus continuing education credits and false certificates of completion for classes they never took, according to the insurance department announcement. As part of his scheme, Armstrong established the “Friends of George” program where, for a fee, he would provide an agent with educational credits.
As all education providers are required to maintain specific documentation for classes taught, Armstrong would arrange for those insurance agents interested in his scheme to meet at a central location and complete the necessary paperwork required.
In addition to insurance agents signing a class roster, he would pass out proficiency tests and provide individuals with the answer pattern created so it would appear all class participants successfully passed the course.
Armstrong would then provide insurance agents with course completion certificates to show they successfully completed a certain number of hours of continuing education, the insurance department said.
Upon conducting an undercover operation at one of his courses, department investigators witnessed Armstrong’s scheme first hand. Insurance agents who had taken his courses over the years were later interviewed and confirmed what the department had suspected. Armstrong admitted that all allegations brought against him were true, and agreed to the permanent surrender of his insurance license and pre-licensing and continuing education contracts.
As Ohio insurance agents are required to take 20 hours of continuing education every two years, insurance agents who took continuing education courses from George Armstrong / P.E.C. could be required to take additional continuing education in the near future as credits submitted by Armstrong from 2006 through 2008 may be deemed null and void. Those agents may additionally face administrative action being taken against their license as they failed to complete continuing education as required, and engaged in a fraudulent and dishonest practice. Insurance agents impacted will be notified by mail of any administrative action they may face.
Source: Ohio Department of Insurance, www.insurance.ohio.gov
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