Earlier this week, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater announced the arrest of Orange County insurance agent Mario Ferreri, 60, for defrauding clients of his financial services company, Financial Management Resources, out of more than $1 million in life insurance premium payments.
An investigation conducted by the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud discovered that between July 2009 and March 2014 Ferreri stole more than $750,000 from one client’s life insurance premium payments and an additional $427,000 from another client. Once he gained their trust, Ferreri persuaded both clients to write their insurance premium checks payable to his company instead of their respective insurance companies, claiming that doing so would allow him to more effectively manage their investments.
In order to conceal the theft, Ferreri changed the mailing address associated with both clients’ policies to reflect his own address, so they would not receive mail from their carriers indicating that payments were not being received. In both cases, Ferreri succeeded until they contacted their carriers to inquire about their policies, which were lapsed due to a lack of payment. Banking records obtained as part of the investigation show that Ferreri was depositing the checks into his own account for personal use.
Ferreri’s bond was set at $1 million. He faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted. The case will be prosecuted by the Orange County State Attorney’s Office. The Department’s Division of Agent & Agency Services permanently revoked his professional license.
“Families work their whole lives to build a nest egg and it is unthinkable for someone to steal that hard-earned money under the guise of helping them,” said CFO Atwater. “I won’t allow this type of fraud in our state, and I will not tolerate such unethical conduct from an agent whose primary task is to properly manage clients’ finances.”