A 54-year-old California insurance agent was arrested for allegedly signing up more than 20 people for life insurance policies without their knowledge or consent, the California Department of Insurance (CDI) has announced.
Alexander Komarenko, of Newbury Park, was booked into the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department and charged with one felony count of grand theft by embezzlement and one felony count of theft from an elder or dependent adult, CDI officials said.
He is scheduled to be arraigned before a Venture County judge on Dec. 4.
“Komarenko violated his fiduciary responsibility when he allegedly took advantage of his clients,” said California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones in a news release. “Licensed insurance agents hold a position of trust and are held to a high standard of professionalism in California."
The Ventura County district attorney’s office declined to release any information about the case.
Komarenko would travel between Los Angeles and the central California coast befriending people and selling them legitimate life insurance coverage, CDI officials said.
Policyholders would automatically be debited monthly premiums from their checking accounts, but after several months, Komarenko would sign policyholders to new life insurance policies without the victims’ knowledge or consent.
Komarenko earned a commission for every policy he “sold.”
In some cases, victims were carrying as many as six or seven life insurance policies and premiums worth as much as $700 a month were coming out of checking accounts of retirees collecting $1,000 a month in Social Security, according to CDI officials.
When people complained, Komarenko chalked it up to insurance carrier billing errors. He cancelled the existing policies only to write new ones for the same people, the CDI said. One of his victims included an 83-year-old woman who didn’t speak English.
Victims would pass along referrals to Komarenko, who then contacted them about life insurance coverage, CDI also said.
Komarenko’s licenses have been suspended and CDI officials are looking for more victims. Anyone suspected of falling prey to the alleged scam should call the Department of Insurance toll-free hotline at 800-927-4357.
The CDI database lists Komarenko as owning an accident and health license and a life-only license, both of which were suspended on Oct. 8.
CDI records show that from 2004 to 2014 Komarenko completed ethics courses connected to state licensing requirements, but that he did not complete any ethics courses during his current two-year licensing term from Jan. 1, 2015 to Dec. 31, 2016.
A real estate sales website, blockshopper.com, shows that Komarenko sold a 2,243-square-foot, three-bedroom home in East Agoura, Calif. in January for $885,000.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Writer Cyril Tuohy has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at [email protected].
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