CINCINNATI – A former insurance agent was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 24 months in prison for defrauding dozens of victims in the Cincinnati and Dayton area.
Seneca Birchmore, 45, of Cincinnati, committed aggravated identity theft. Birchmore also fraudulently obtained two COVID Paycheck Protection Program loans.
As part of his sentence, Birchmore is ordered to pay nearly $147,000 in restitution.
According to court documents, Birchmore lost his license as an insurance agent in 2019 because he was writing unauthorized insurance policies so that he could collect the commissions.
After losing his license, Birchmore then stole the identities of two other insurance agents and used those identities to write more life insurance policies for customers who did not want them. Birchmore had the commissions from dozens of local customer victims deposited into his own bank accounts.
Local law enforcement departments received complaints from victims that money was being automatically withdrawn from their bank accounts for insurance policies they never ordered. Many of the victims are senior citizens, and most reside in Dayton, Englewood, Middletown and Cincinnati.
The commissions for Birchmore’s original fraudulent insurance policies under his own name as an agent totaled more than $8,000. The commissions for policies created under the stolen identities of other agents totaled more than $93,000.
“This case is based plainly on Birchmore’s greed combined with his wanton acts to take advantage of some of society’s most vulnerable people, the senior customers,” said U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Parker. “Unfortunately, the victims in the case are not only the customers, but also the insurance agents whose identities he stole as well as the insurance companies he caused to pay the fraudulent commissions.”
As part of his conviction, Birchmore has agreed to pay the following restitution:
- Americo Financial Life and Annuity Insurance Company: $34,820.37
- Columbian Life Insurance Company: $16,604.01
- Transamerica Life Insurance Company: $4,671
- Mutual of Omaha: $2,104.65
- Great Western Insurance Company: $16,303.17
- Aetna Health and Life Insurance Company: $8,826.84
- American General Life Insurance Company: $158.82
- Guarantee Trust Life Insurance Company: $17,906.07
- U.S. Small Business Administration: $41,665
In a separate scheme, Birchmore fraudulently obtained two COVID Paycheck Protection Program loans totaling more than $40,000. Birchmore claimed on both loan applications that he owned a business in his name and stated his gross income for 2019 was more than $13 million. No such business exists.
The defendant was charged federally and arrested in June 2022. He pleaded guilty in January 2023.
“I commend the diligence of the Ohio Department of Insurance’s investigatory team for bringing detailed aspects of this case to light, and the work of the partner agencies to ensure accountability for breaking the law,” said Ohio Department of Insurance Director Judith L. French. “Insurance crimes are serious. They negatively impact consumers and also drive up the cost of insurance for all Ohioans.”
U.S. Attorney Parker and Director French were joined by the Social Security Office of Inspector General, U.S. Secret Service, Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, U.S. Marshals Service, Butler County Sheriff’s Office and Cincinnati Police Department in announcing the sentence imposed on April 13 by Senior U.S. District Judge Susan J. Dlott. Assistant United States Attorney Julie D. Garcia and former Special Assistant United States Attorney Timothy Landry represented the United States in this case.
SOURCE: Ohio Department of Insurance
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