As the industry keeps changing, it's important to know a company's "pedigree."
A former Hawaii insurance agent who drained the life insurance accounts of two customers was sentenced Thursday to 10 years in prison.
State Circuit Court Judge Karen Ahn gave Kathleen Kau the prison term for stealing more than $360,000 over five years from two longtime clients, the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs announced.
Kau was convicted after the customers, who had been clients of Kau for 30 years, questioned the balance in their life insurance accounts.
The state said Kau opened a post office box to receive mail for her victims after falsely informing Transamerica Life Insurance Co. that a fire destroyed the home of her customers. Kau also asked the insurance company to mail a checkbook allowing her clients to tap their life insurance account savings because of the home loss. Kau, however, wrote checks on the accounts for her personal use, the state said.
"Mrs. Kau was in a position of trust, and in cold calculation took money out of what were the retirement investments of two individuals," Ryan Shinsato, a special deputy attorney general for the state Insurance Fraud branch, said in a statement. "She only stopped because there was no money left in the victims' accounts."
Kau stole the money from March 1998 to June 2003, the state said. An investigation began in 2010 after the missing money was discovered.
The state said Transamerica restored the lost investment contributions the customers made.
Kau could be ordered to make restitution payments. A hearing on that matter is scheduled for Sept. 7. She was taken into custody after Thursday's sentencing.
Credit: Andrew Gomes