On August 18th, 2014

California Insurance Agent Arrested On 96 Felony Counts Multiple schemes used to steal $600,000

insurancefraudsuspect_246_274_c1Jacob Richard Bonzer, 27, formerly of Lake Forest, California was arrested in Chicago August 13, 2014 on 96 felony counts including grand theft, forgery and denial of benefits.

Bonzer is accused of using numerous schemes for his own financial gain, based on a joint investigation between the California Department of Insurance, the Orange County District Attorney's Office and the Brea Police Department.

One scheme involved homeowner insurance policies. The California Department of Insurance received a complaint alleging Bonzer submitted 128 fraudulent homeowners insurance applications containing bogus information using nonexistent policyholders for real properties, causing valid policies to be issued for phantom homeowners in escrow between April and July 2010. Bonzer received $46,000 in advanced commissions from the insurance company that expected to collect premiums when the properties closed escrow. Since the applicants were bogus, the insurer never received premium payments and Bonzer was eventually fired.

Investigators allege Bonzer continued his scam through another agent after he was fired. Bonzer is accused of creating  a fictitious mortgage company that referred all residential short-sale business to Bonzer for homeowners insurance. Bonzer used the same scheme leading the insurer to believe they would receive premium payments at the close of escrow. Numerous policies were resubmitted multiple times with an explanation that escrow closing had been delayed. In some cases Bonzer received duplicate commission payments for the same property. Between August 2010 and November 2011, approximately 790 fraudulent homeowners insurance applications, containing bogus information, were allegedly submitted by Bonzer under another agent. As a result Bonzer received commission payments of $239,000.

Another scheme Bonzer is accused of involved  Workers' Compensation. Bonzer is accused of created a fictitious insurance company in 2012 called GW Mutual Risk Retention Group, LLC, which was registered in Florida. GW Mutual is not licensed to write insurance in California though Bonzer allegedly sold workers' compensation and commercial insurance policies through his agency, Bonzer Insurance Brokerage, located in Orange County. Bonzer collected approximately $280,000 in premium from 58 California businesses that believed they were purchasing valid coverage. When questioned by a client about GW's ability to offer insurance in California, Bonzer provided an altered CDI report of examination as proof. Department investigators also discovered premium payments entrusted to Bonzer were used on personal living expenses including the rental of luxury high-rise apartments, travel, wine clubs and fine dining.

"This suspect is accused of using several schemes to rip off insurers and businesses for his own financial gain," said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona.  CSLEA represents California Department of Insurance investigators.  "These investigators work complex cases and have proven their work results in arrests, prosecutions and convictions."

If convicted, Bonzer faces a maximum sentence of more than 87 years in state prison.

Bonzer allegedly orchestrated these elaborate scams by using multiple post office boxes, virtual assistants, business entities, office spaces, email accounts, Website domains and bank accounts. Investigators have  reason to believe that there are additional victims

If convicted, Bonzer faces a maximum sentence of more than 87 years in state prison.

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