A former California insurance agent has been sentenced to two years of probation for embezzling nearly $200,000 from clients and leaving them uninsured.
Anna Gabriela Garcia, also known as Anna Nuno-Garcia, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of embezzlement and grand theft for collecting premium payments from clients and siphoning off $195,000 in funds for her own use. In addition to probation, Garcia has been ordered to pay the insurance company $190.676 in restitution, according to the California Department of Insurance.
Garcia is a former insurance agent who worked for an independently owned State Farm agency. An investigation by the Department of Insurance found that between 2011 and 2014, Garcia embezzled more than 300 checks, totaling $195,626, by altering, endorsing or depositing them into her personal bank accounts. Those checks were from her clients, and were intended to pay their insurance premiums. Other checks were premium refunds for policyholders.
Garcia failed to place coverage for personal and commercial auto insurance, causing cancelation of DMV registrations and exposing her clients and other drivers to financial risk, the Department of Insurance said. She also failed to place a life insurance policy and at least 17 homeowners’ and renters’ policies.
To conceal the theft, she made 57 unauthorized ACH debits from one client’s bank account to pay the premiums of other clients. She also made unauthorized charges to multiple clients’ credit cards to pay the premiums of other policies. She used cash payments from some clients to purchase money orders to pay premiums for other clients and set up policyholders on State Farm installment plans without authorization. She also misdirected customers’ bills, statements and refunds to incorrect addresses, including her own, or post office boxes to which she had access.
“We obtain insurance coverage to protect ourselves,” said California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. “The Department of Insurance’s role is to protect consumers and ensure insurance agents abide by all the laws we have in place. This formerly licensed agent abused her clients’ trust and put them at risk by leaving them uninsured. This conviction is a reminder to all that our department is committed to protecting consumers from those looking to take advantage of them.”