Louisiana Trio Faces Huge Sentences for Auto Insurance Fraud

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  • Auto insurance fraud is one of the biggest reasons that millions of people across the country may have to pay more for their coverage than they might like, no matter how good their driving record is. This kind of crime drives up costs for everyone, and both insurers and law enforcement agencies are now trying to do a little more when it comes to cracking down on criminals. For these reasons, it might be wise for insurance agents to advise their clients about what they can do to help stamp out insurance fraud, and how this kind of thing affects them financially.

    Three defendants in a case involving a massive insurance fraud scheme were recently sentenced in a Louisiana court after admitting to roles in staging auto accidents from 2003 to 2010, according to a report from the office of United States Attorney Stephanie Finley. All pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The heftiest sentence in terms of jail time was levied at Oliver Lockett of Breaux Bridge, the apparent ringleader of the fraud ring, who will spend as much as 60 months in jail, plus three years of supervised release. Aleric Johnson and Buddy Estelle, both of New Iberia, each received 12 months in prison, with Johnson getting two years of supervised release, and Estelle getting three.

    Massive fines come as well
    In addition to the jail time, though, there were also huge financial penalties levied against Lockett and Johnson, totaling more than $265,000, the report said. Lockett has to pay the majority of that, amounting to more than $193,000 in restitution. Johnson will pay the rest, some $64,500.

    Insurance agents who can help people understand what goes into setting their auto coverage costs – whether it’s fraud, their individual driving records, where they live, or other factors – will probably be able to build a stronger relationship with those clients overall. In fact, that kind of high-quality customer service is often better in terms of driving satisfaction ratings than agents simply being able to provide the occasional discount on a person’s coverage, and people will generally be more willing to accept some price bumps as a result. All this can also mean an increase in retention rates for agents who are particularly successful when it comes to engaging customers.