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Ferriday Woman is Latest Booked in Series of Insurance Fraud Allegations

A Ferriday insurance agent was arrested today in the latest investigation of alleged insurance fraud across the state, Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Brown confirmed.

Sharon Lee Hoover, 42, 207 Woodland, Ferriday, was arrested today in Natchez in a collaborative effort between the La. State Police and Natchez Police on a warrant issued in Tensas Parish. She was charged with felony theft, insurance fraud, misappropriation of premium and exploitation of the infirm. In a subsequent action, Department of Insurance Fraud Unit investigators served her with a Cease and Desist order. "The suspect is alleged to have been accepting insurance premiums, but failing to issue policies and pocketing the money," said Commissioner Brown.

Hoover allegedly misappropriated premium money from Watson and Grace Insurance Agency of St. Joseph, La. She took money from clients and issued ID cards without forwarding premium and applications to the insurance company, the charges allege. She is also alleged to have provided fraudulent information to the Office of Motor Vehicles.
According to a State Police affidavit, there are 37 confirmed victims. Of these, 23 are between the ages of 65 and 93.

"Watson and Grace Insurance Agency took swift action to ensure that policyholders were not harmed by Hoover's actions and that valid insurance coverage is provided for everyone who bought insurance from her in good faith," Commissioner Brown said.

"The Watson and Grace Agency is to be commended for moving quickly and responsibly to protect the public in this matter," he said.

Today's arrest is one of a series in the past several months involving the Department of Insurance and the State Police Insurance Fraud Task Force, often in cooperation with local authorities. "We expect to make more arrests in the coming months as we continue our anti-fraud activities across the state," Brown said.

"The cooperation of the insurance industry as well as local law enforcement is key to halting fraud and providing maximum protection to policyholders who are victims of all types of insurance fraud," Brown said. "Insurance agents, company officials and other insurance industry professionals are required by law to report all suspected fraudulent insurance activity to the Department of Insurance as the Watson and Grace Agency did in this case," said Brown.

"Insurance industry officials are also a necessary component of the Department's efforts to stamp out claims fraud. Claims fraud in Louisiana for all lines of insurance is estimated at $2.4 billion annually. Automobile insurance claims fraud alone is estimated at $362.3 million a year," Brown said.

"Policyholders who bought insurance from Sharon Hoover should contact the Watson and Grace agency or call the insurance company directly if they have concerns about their insurance coverage. Anyone who has trouble reaching the agency or insurance company can call the Louisiana Department of Insurance, at (225) 342-5900, or toll-free, at 1-800-259-5300, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays for assistance," Brown said.