For Immediate Release: March 9, 2010

Contacts: Kristin Milam 919-807-6011

Wilson Woman Accused of Staging Robbery for Insurance Money

RALEIGH -- Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin today announced the arrest of Leslie Michelle Nowell, 30, 8535 Levi Court, Wilson, for allegedly staging a robbery in an attempt to receive insurance money.

Department investigators allege that Nowell filed a police report with the Wilson Police Department stating she was robbed of assorted jewelry, pocket books and cash while working at her store, Divine Decor & Gift; investigators further allege that Nowell staged the robbery. According to the arrest warrants, Nowell received two checks from Nationwide Insurance Company totaling $6,693 for false insurance claims stemming from a robbery that did not occur. The Department of Insurance Criminal Investigations Division opened the investigation after receiving a tip.

Nowell is charged with on two counts each of insurance fraud and obtaining property by false pretense. She was processed at the Wilson County Jail and placed under a $1,000 secured bond.

The Department of Insurance employs 20 sworn law enforcement officers dedicated to investigating claims of insurance fraud. In 2009, these criminal investigators saw more than 413 cases successfully closed with more than $10.5 million in restitution and recoveries, 89 criminal convictions and 175 arrests.

An estimated 10 cents of every dollar paid in premiums goes toward the payment of fraudulent claims. To report suspected fraud, contact the Department of Insurance Criminal Investigations Division at 919-807-6840. Callers may remain anonymous.