Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Insurance agent pleads guilty to theft for selling bogus insurance

Brenda MacLaren-Beattie, a longtime insurance agent in Des Moines, Wash., has pleaded guilty to first-degree theft for selling fake insurance to oral surgeons in two states.

Our investigation found that MacLaren-Beattie, 67, sold thousands of dollars in fake business-insurance policies, often issuing counterfeit certificates of insurance to doctors and clinics. She pleaded guilty yesterday in King County Superior Court to eight counts of first-degree theft, a felony.

From late 2001 through 2009, she issued fake insurance to 25 oral surgeons in Washington and 16 in Oregon. During that time, she is believed to have collected more than $532,000 in premiums for fictitious insurance policies. Her insurance license expired in 2009.

In some cases -- a lost camera, some water damage -- she paid out small insurance claims. One of her clients became suspicious after a claim check was issued by MacLaren-Beattie, rather than from an insurance company.

The fictitious policies were for business owners' general liability insurance. General liability insurance typically covers things like slip-and-fall accidents, employee theft, and damage to rented property.

Sentencing in King County Superior Court is expected later this month.