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Arrest of Miami Auto Insurance Agent Prompts Renewed Warning to ‘verify before You Buy’

5/6/2003

CONTACT: Nina Banister
(850) 413-2842

TALLAHASSEE -- As fraud investigators with the Department of Financial Services continue to identify victims of a Miami auto insurance agent who collected premiums without securing coverage, Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher is re-issuing a warning to consumers to verify the coverage they are buying is legitimate and properly placed before handing over a check.

Department fraud investigators said today they have identified at least 30 consumers who paid for insurance but never got coverage from Doretha Wilson's agency MTM Insurance, located at 13514 Memorial Highway in Miami. Wilson, 55, remains held without bond in Dade County Jail following her third arrest last Thursday for forgery and grand theft. Her license is suspended through an emergency order issued by the department's Division of Legal Services, following an investigation by the Division of Agent and Agencies' Bureau of Investigation.

Wilson is alleged to have defrauded consumers by accepting premiums for automobile insurance that she never forwarded to insurance companies, or by creating fraudulent certificates of insurance. Wilson had no appointment to sell insurance for any licensed auto insurance company, and her customers learned of their lack of coverage only after filing claims.

In the past two years, the department has filed administrative charges against more than 50 agents and shut down 10 unlicensed entities that were marketing phony coverage in Florida. For more than a year, the department has conducted a statewide public education through television advertising and billboards with the message, "Verify Before You Buy." Last week, the department unveiled a new web page at www.fldfs.com that provides consumers and agents one on-line location to verify company licensure and identify those companies and agents who have been charged in relation to selling unlicensed insurance.

Consumers should check the web page or call the department's consumer helpline at 1-800-342-2762 to verify both the insurance company and agent they are considering doing business with is licensed. Gallagher said be sure to verify that a company is licensed before buying any line of coverage, whether health, homeowners, auto or life.