Calif. Agent Arrested on Theft Charge

January 9, 2004

A Rialto, California insurance agent was arrested for allegedly stealing $3,000 from a 95-year-old woman, money that was intended to pay for a policy to fund funeral arrangements after her death.

Brian Wesley Lowe, 48, was charged with one felony count of elder abuse and one felony count of grand theft after an investigation by the California Department of Insurance (CDI) Investigation Division.

“The Department of Insurance is committed to investigating and prosecuting those who prey on California’s senior community,” said State Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi. “Insurance agents seeking to target seniors for illegal investment schemes will be caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.”

According to investigators, Lowe sold the life insurance policy to the woman while working at Simpson Mortuary in San Bernardino in July 2002. He allegedly told her that the cost for her funeral would be $3,569. Receipts indicate that she paid him $3,000 as a down payment for the policy offered through Great Western Insurance Company.

Lowe submitted a $3,000 money order and the policy application to Great Western in August 2002. But both were returned to him because of a discrepancy on the application. He was advised to correct the discrepancy and resubmit the application or return the money to the purchaser.

According to investigators, Lowe instead kept the money for himself. Great Western eventually issued the policy to the San Bernardino woman, collecting the remaining premium of $569. However, the company never received her initial $3,000 down payment for the policy, and eventually had to absorb the loss.

The victim told investigators that she did not understand that she was purchasing an insurance policy at the time she paid Lowe. She instead thought she was paying him for pre-need funeral arrangements.

The San Bernardino District Attorney’s Elder Abuse Unit is prosecuting the case. Lowe, who was arrested by Department of Insurance investigators, is being held on $50,000 bail.

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