Paterson Woman Charged in Scheme to Steal More Than $175K from Two Individuals Insurance Annuity Policies
Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor announced today that a Passaic County woman has been charged with insurance fraud and other offenses in an alleged scheme to steal more than $175,000 from the insurance annuity policies of two individuals.
Officials say Vashanta Stroud-Bennett, 45, of Paterson, was charged with second-degree insurance fraud, second-degree theft by deception, second-degree impersonation, third-degree impersonation and third-degree attempted theft by deception. The charges were contained in an indictment handed up by a State Grand Jury in Trenton on February 4.
According to the indictment, on or between July 23 and August 1 of 2017, Stroud-Bennett obtained personal identifying information pertaining to two individuals and assumed their identities in an attempt to obtain money from their insurance annuity policies.
In the first case, Stroud-Bennett allegedly impersonated policy owner “P.C.” in two withdrawal requests submitted to Voya Insurance and Annuity Company, also known as Voya Financial. The first request sought partial distribution of $78,900 from P.C.’s annuity policy.
The second request sought a partial distribution of $93,400 from the same policy. Stroud-Bennett also allegedly impersonated P.C. in an email to Voya Financial, and in a conversation with a company representative in connection with the distribution requests. Stroud-Bennett obtained more than $75,000 from the account, according to the indictment.
In the second case, Stroud-Bennett allegedly impersonated policy owner “L.C.” in a withdrawal request submitted to Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America. The request sought a partial withdrawal of $22,000 from L.C.’s annuity policy. She also allegedly impersonated L.C. in a phone conversation with an Allianz representative in connection with the withdrawal request.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $15,000.
People who are concerned about insurance cheating and have information about a fraud can report it anonymously by calling the toll-free hotline at 1-877-55-FRAUD, or visiting the Web site at www.njinsurancefraud.org. State regulations permit a reward to be paid to an eligible person who provides information that leads to a conviction for insurance fraud.