A former insurance broker/agent has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for the sale of approximately $6 million worth of fake insurance policies the broker falsely claimed were underwritten by Lloyd’s of London, according to the California Department of Insurance.
CDI investigators said Richard W. Peterson (also known as Robert James), 66, of San Francisco, operated an insurance brokerage firm that claimed to specialize in the placement of commercial liability insurance for restaurants and bars. Between 2000 and 2003, Peterson issued commercial liability insurance policies he said he placed with underwriters at Lloyd’s and obtained through two New York insurance brokerages: Surplus Lines Inc. and Heritage Inc., CDI said. When a broker tried to confirm coverage, he found the policies were fraudulent and had not been placed with underwriters.
Authorities at Lloyd’s advised CDI’s Investigation Division that the company did not receive any applications for insurance or any premium funds from the bogus policies. Once the fraud was uncovered, CDI and Lloyd’s advised victims to contact their insurance brokers and obtain new coverage.
Peterson pleaded guilty on July 19, 2005 to wire fraud and engaging in the business of insurance after having been convicted of a felony. At sentencing in a Manhattan federal court, United States District Judge Denny Chin Judge Chin also ordered Peterson to pay restitution of $6.6 million and ordered the preliminary forfeiture of $6.6 million, as well as Peterson’s interest in four properties (two buildings located in San Francisco, a condominium in Las Vegas, and a condominium in the Cayman Islands).
Peterson illegally operated under the names United Restaurant Services; United Restaurant Services Corp.; United Restaurant Services Cooperative; United Restaurant Services Inc.; United Restaurant Insurance Services; and California Restaurant Specialty Cooperative Inc. located primarily in San Francisco. Although his broker/agent license was revoked by CDI in 1999 for similar activities, Peterson misrepresented himself as a licensed insurance broker able to place insurance coverage. CDI investigators worked with the United States Postal Inspection Service, Manhattan Office and the Office of the United States Attorney, Southern District, to obtain the federal complaint.