New York State
James J. Wrynn Superintendent of Insurance 25 Beaver Street New York, N.Y. 10004
|ISSUED 4/20/2011||FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
An insurance claims representative was arrested for stealing $44,900 that should have been paid as part of an insurance settlement to a St. Lawrence County man whose home was destroyed in a 2009 fire.
State police arrested Scott E. Wood, 40, of Liverpool, Onondaga County, on April 13 after an investigation by the Frauds Bureau of the New York State Insurance Department. He was released pending a May 4 hearing in Town of Dewitt Court.
The investigation was begun when the owner of the home in North Lawrence contacted Nationwide Insurance Company about the claim settlement for the loss of his home.
The homeowner told the insurance company that Wood, a Nationwide employee, contacted him after the homeowner had been paid approximately $300,000 for the loss. At that point, the homeowner said he believed that the claim had been settled and that money he had received was the extent of what the insurer would pay him.
However, the homeowner said Wood told him that he could get more money, provided that the homeowner used the services of a lawyer known by Wood. He said Wood told him that he would be expected to split any additional money he received with the unnamed lawyer.
The homeowner said he agreed to the offer although he doubted he would get any additional money from the insurer.
Several weeks later, Wood later appeared at the man’s home with a check from Nationwide for $89,800 made payable to the homeowner. As a claims representative, Wood was authorized to settle claims and write settlement checks on behalf of the insurer.
Wood told the homeowner that since the lawyer wanted to keep his name out of the case, the homeowner needed to write a personal check to Wood for half of the money and that the homeowner could keep the other half. Wood also told him that he should deny the transaction ever occurred if he was contacted by the insurer.
The homeowner contacted Nationwide after meeting with Wood and giving him a check for $44,900. The insurer then notified the Insurance Department’s Frauds Bureau.
Wood was fired by Nationwide after investigators learned that he had cashed the homeowner’s check for $44,900 and deposited the money into his personal bank account.
Wood was charged with third degree grand larceny. He could be sentenced to seven years in prison if he is convicted.
The case is being prosecuted by Onondaga County Assistant District Attorney Robert DeMarco.
Nationwide has paid the homeowner the portion of the claim settlement Wood is accused of taking.