The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York has announced charges against Brian Bartz of Rochester, NY, on allegations of fraud and identity theft. Bartz, 38, was charged with aggravated identity theft, attempted wire fraud, and wire fraud. Attorney information wasn’t available.
Bartz is accused of submitting false life insurance policies on behalf of hundreds of individuals without their knowledge or consent when he worked at the Benjamin Hollamby Agency. He allegedly ran the scheme in order to collect commissions and bonuses for the sale of those policies. To avoid detection, he used various victims’ bank accounts to pay for the policy premiums, the complaint states.
Investigators learned of the alleged scheme after Bartz left Benjamin Hollamby in February 2018. Nationwide performed an annual audit and discovered that a large number of the policies Bartz had sold at Benjamin Hollamby had lapsed because the policy holders had failed to pay their premiums. An internal review determined that a majority of the policy holders never granted him permission to file an application on their behalf in the first place. In total, he allegedly submitted 150 applications on behalf of 120 individuals, and was paid an estimated $250,000 in bonuses and commissions.
Bartz continued the alleged scheme when he worked at Bankers Conseco Life Insurance Company, where he reportedly submitted around 30 false policy applications for 22 individuals in order to obtain $70,000 in bonuses and commissions. Bankers Conseco reportedly became aware of the scheme before it made the payments.
He allegedly ran a similar scheme while working at MassMutual, where he submitted nearly 140 applications on behalf of 10 individuals in order to obtain $100,000 in bonuses and commissions, the complaint states. Like Bankers Conseco, MassMutual also learned of the scheme before it made any payments.
Bartz is additionally accused of persuading individuals who had a years-long working relationship with him, or had been referred to him, to directly pay him their premiums instead of their insurance provider. He also allegedly claimed to be an investment advisor and persuaded individuals to invest in non-existent funds he controlled. He avoided detection by using a portion of the incoming funds from new investors to pay off earlier investors, according to the complaint. Investigators estimate that he defrauded individual investors out of $530,000 through the alleged scheme.
The complaint claims that between 2015 and 2020, Bartz defrauded or attempted to defraud multiple life insurance companies and dozens of investors out of more than $950,000. The charges filed against him are the result of an extensive investigation by the FBI.
Wire fraud and identity theft are serious offenses. Anyone facing these charges should immediately consult an experienced attorney who can review all of the evidence and craft a compelling defense that will have the charges thrown out or minimize the potential penalties.
South Florida Fraud Defense Attorney