Former licensed insurance agent Robert Stoddard, 66, of San Clemente, Calif., was arrested after a Department of Insurance investigation found he allegedly stole over $1.2 million from more than 20 victims, including 14 seniors.
He is being charged with 51 felony counts of grand theft, elder abuse, money laundering, securities violations and aggravated white-collar crime enhancements.
“When consumers are planning their future, they rely on insurance agents to help them make important financial decisions. They should feel confident agents act in their best interests,” said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. “This insurance agent allegedly violated his victims’ trust and placed them in financial risk for his own gain. My Department is committed to protecting California consumers, especially elderly ones, from agents looking to take advantage of them.”
Stoddard owned and operated an insurance agency, The Stoddard Group, Inc., that also offered living trusts and investment advice. The Department’s investigation revealed that between August 2012 and June 2018, Stoddard conducted investment and retirement related seminars that targeted senior citizens and used various schemes to fraudulently gain victims’ trust and cultivate friendships in order to steal money from them.
Stoddard led victims to believe he obtained bonuses from insurance companies that he could apply to their existing life policies and/or annuity contracts if they paid their premiums directly to him, rather than to the insurance company. He then failed to place the annuity and life insurance policies and also induced his victims into a fraudulent real estate investment scheme.
Stoddard forged insurance statements, e-mails, and letters, which led victims to believe the information he relayed to them was true. He would occasionally pay a few investment returns to victims, but those were later halted.
When victims questioned the lack of promised funds, Stoddard told them the real estate ventures were “defunct” or there were problems with tenants. He also signed promissory notes to cement victims’ confidence in their investments and mitigate their concerns. To further delay payment of their investments or insurance policy bonuses, Stoddard falsely claimed his funds were levied by different governmental agencies.
Stoddard was arrested on August 18, 2021, and his bail was originally set at $1 million. However, after being taking into custody, his bail was increased to a “no bail” hold due to a previous unrelated financial elder abuse case. Stoddard is scheduled to be arraigned on September 15, 2021, in Orange Superior Court. A bail review hearing is also scheduled for that same day.
If you feel you’ve been victimized or know someone who has been victimized by Stoddard or The Stoddard Group, Inc., please contact the Department at 714-712-7600. Stoddard’s license expired January 31, 2019.
This case is being prosecuted by the Major Fraud Unit of the Orange County District Attorney’s office.