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Post date: November 20 2014

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Prison Sentence For Fake Insurance Broker Who Submitted Hundreds Of Fictitious Policy Applications

Defendant Scammed Customers Into Thinking They Had Legitimate Auto Insurance; Unsuspecting Victims Then Found Their Policies Suddenly Cancelled

Schneiderman: All New Yorkers Pay A Price For Insurance Fraud, Which Drives Up Premiums Across The Board

NEW YORK - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the felony conviction and sentence of a Long Island man who spent years stealing from customers by pretending to be a legitimate insurance agent. Darren Downes, who defrauded clients and insurance companies by submitting hundreds of fraudulent auto insurance policies, was convicted of fraud and identity theft and sentenced to up to four years in prison. 

Downes admitted to charging customers hundreds of dollars each to submit policy applications on their behalf to auto-insurance companies like Progressive and GEICO, promising to get them a better policy than they could get on their own.  He then falsified customer information, using stolen social security numbers, incorrect zip codes and fictitious professional and educational backgrounds to obtain discounted policies. When insurance companies discovered the false information, Downes’ unsuspecting customers found their policies cancelled or were forced to pay significantly higher premiums. Downes fraudulently obtained approximately $75,000 in policy application fees from customers. 

"All New Yorkers pay a price for insurance fraud, which drives up premiums across the board,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. "This sentence sends a clear message: this office will prosecute anyone who breaks the law to take advantage of unsuspecting customers for personal profit."

Downes, 33, of Baldwin, pleaded guilty on July 1, 2014 in Nassau County Court to Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a Class E felony, Identity Theft in the First Degree, a Class D felony and Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a Class D felony.  

Downes was sentenced Wednesday by Judge Paradiso to 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison, and a judgment was entered against him for an $85,000 fine.

The Attorney General thanks GEICO, Progressive, the New York State Department of Financial Services and the National Insurance Crime Bureau for their valuable cooperation in this investigation.  

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Irwin Weiss of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau's Auto Insurance Fraud Unit, with the assistance of Legal Analyst Christopher Michel.  The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Gary Fishman and Deputy Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton. The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is part of the Criminal Justice Division, led by Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Kelly Donovan.

The Attorney General's investigation was conducted by Investigator Patrick Lubin of the Auto Insurance Fraud Unit, under the direction of Supervising Investigators Edward Keegan and Natalie Shifrin and Deputy Chief Leonard D'Alessandro. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief Dominick Zarrella.