Criminal Justice News

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Charlottesville Insurance Agent Charged with Fraud

Graham Messer Facing 13 Charges

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA—A local insurance agent is facing a handful of federal charges related to fraud following the unsealing of an indictment returned by a federal grand jury two weeks ago in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Charlottesville.

Graham Hutson Messer, 32, of Bremo Bluff, Virginia, was charged in a sealed indictment returned September 12, 2012, and unsealed last week following the defendant’s arrest. Messer has been charged with 13 counts of mail fraud.

According to the indictment, Messer operated as an independent agent offering insurance and insurance products for sale to clients in Virginia. Messer purported to sell insurance offered by a number of different insurance companies, including, but not limited to: the Farmers Insurance group of companies, Chartis Inc., Nautilus Insurance Group, Granite State Insurance Company, and Main Street America Group.

It is alleged in the indictment that Messer would instruct his clients to send payments for insurance premiums directly to him. The defendant told his clients that he would then remit the payments to the insurance companies. However, according to the indictment, Messer embezzled those funds for his own, personal use, never sending them to the insurance company, while also deceiving his clients into believing they had insurance coverage.

If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum possible penalty of up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000 for each mail fraud charge.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Albemarle County Police Department, the Virginia Bureau of Insurance, and the Charlottesville City Police Department. Special Assistant United States Attorney Elliott Casey will prosecute the case for the United States.

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