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Fraud, theft and money laundering: Ga. insurance commissioner charged in $2M scheme

A rental property, credit card debt and taxes: These are a few things the Georgia Insurance Commissioner is accused of spending money on that he stole from insurance companies.

ATLANTA — Georgia Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner Jim Beck was indicted for fraud and money laundering Tuesday in Atlanta. The U.S. Attorney said Beck is accused of using his experience in the insurance industry to create fake companies to defraud insurance companies of at least $2 million.

The indictment alleges Beck committed the crimes between February 2013 and August 2018, while he was general manager of operations for Georgia Underwriting Association (GUA) -- an insurance association located in Suwanee that provided high-risk property insurance to homeowners in Georgia.

"The allegations relate to activities that was done prior him being elected as commissioner and taking his oath," said Byung Pak, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.

Beck also had controlling interests in two other companies.

"In beginning 2013, Mr. Beck convinced four of his associates to create four separate businesses with the alleged purpose of supplying Georgia Underwriting Association with services," Pak added.

Prosecutors painted a complicated scheme to cover up illegal payments Beck allegedly received.

The alleged crimes as detailed in indictment:

  • Beck got payments through several companies
  • Beck created shell companies to make fake invoices and redirect money given to him through other companies

"The grand jury has alleged in the indictment the creation of the companies were all suggested by Mr. Beck, the way the invoice was done was all suggested by Mr. Beck, and of course, there's allegations that he facilitated payments," Pak said. 

The shell companies received money for home inspections and water damage mitigation, which they received from insurance companies using fake invoices.

“It involved multiple people it involved multiple modes of communication," Pak said.

Beck allegedly used the ill-gotten gains to pay his personal credit card bill, fund his investment and retirement accounts, and for use in his statewide election campaign. He also allegedly used some of the money to buy and improve a rental property and pay his taxes.

11Alive News reached out to the Office of the Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner for a comment. They issued this statement:

"The accusations that have been made against Commissioner Beck today have no bearing on his service as an elected official to the people of Georgia.

The Commissioner maintains his innocence and he is entitled to the same presumption of innocence that every citizen of Georgia walks into a courtroom with when accused of a crime.

The Department is focused on fulfilling the vital mission we have to protect Georgia consumers.

The incredible employees of our Department will get up tomorrow morning and go back to work, including Commissioner Beck."

Even though these allegations happened before Beck was elected the commissioner, Young said he is still not exempt from the law.

"Holding a power position does not shield you from the sins of your past criminal activities," Pak said. "Justice and rule of law will catch up with you eventually."

Beck was elected to the office of Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner in 2018, but he’s been in the industry for years. In addition to serving as Insurance Commissioner, Beck is also the Safety Fire Commissioner and Industrial Loan Commissioner. His duties include regulating approximately 1,600 insurance companies, licensing 137,000 insurance agents, and regulating over 1,000 industrial loan offices.

Pak said Beck is expected to turn himself in by noon Wednesday. 

Information from the Atlanta Business Chronicle was used in this report.

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