Former Agent Misappropriated $92,000 in Premiums, Apprehended in Fla.

September 20, 2005

Joel Berg, the former owner of J.B. Williams & Company in Weston, Fla. and Seacoast Marine Insurance Inc. in Fort Lauderdale has been arrested for allegedly misappropriating more than $92,000 in insurance premiums from more than 50 customers. If convicted on the charges, Berg faces up to 45 years in prison.

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher announced that Berg was arrested at his home by detectives with the Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud. He was booked into the Broward County Jail on charges of organized fraud and misappropriation of insurance premium. Bond was set at $28,500.

“Beyond the criminal act of stealing, this agent put his customers at risk of not having the coverage they need to protect their property,” said Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services.

The fraud division’s investigation determined that, from June of 2002 through March of 2003, Berg accepted insurance premiums for marine insurance from at least 50 customers and did not forward the premium to the insurance company. In each instance, investigators said, Berg received the insurance premiums from the customers and deposited the funds into his personal bank account.

The Broward County State Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the charges. The department’s Division of Agent and Agency Services revoked his agent’s license in April.

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