Calif. Broker Charged, Arrested for Grand Theft

Merilyn Matsuko Burnside, an insurance broker from Commerce, Calif., has been arrested for allegedly swindling customers out of insurance payments on two separate occasions. Burnside was arrested Friday, July 6, 2007 in her city of Commerce office.

California Department of Insurance (CDI) investigators revealed that Burnside allegedly defrauded one victim of $3,532 by pocketing the customer’s insurance premium payment instead of remitting it to the insurer. As a result, the victim’s property was uninsured, and he was exposed to potential losses for a period of 12 months. The victim discovered the scam when attempting to renew coverage a year later. He then submitted a written request for assistance to CDI. Upon receiving the request, CDI launched an investigation of Burnside’s business.

During the course of the CDI investigation, a second alleged fraud victim was discovered. The second victim had paid Burnside $799 for his insurance premium. Instead of remitting it to the insurer, Burnside allegedly stole the premium money and left the victim exposed to potential losses for 10 months. The victim was unaware that his property was uninsured until the investigation uncovered the offense, CDI said.

Burnside’s arraignment date is scheduled for July 27th. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting this case. Burnside’s business operated under the name, “M. Burnside Insurance Brokers, Inc.”

Source: CDI