For Immediate Release: February 21, 2011

Lenoir County Man Accused of Identity Theft, Selling Insurance with No Licensee

RALEIGH -- Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin today announced the arrest of Russell Edward Alphin, 55, of 305 Summit St., LaGrange; he is charged with three counts each of identity theft and of obtaining property by false pretense.

Department of Insurance criminal investigators accuse Alphin, who is not a licensed insurance agent, of selling insurance coverage to people in Lenoir County in 2005 and 2006 while using a licensed insurance agent's name and an identification number assigned to the licensed agent by an insurance company. The amount of commission Alphin fraudulently obtained from selling the insurance policies is estimated to have been between $10,000 and $15,000.

Alphin was arrested in Lenoir County on Feb. 16 and placed under a $15,000 secured bond. The Department of Insurance continues to investigate on the belief that Alphin has sold coverage in eight other jurisdictions.

The Department of Insurance employs 20 sworn law enforcement officers dedicated to investigating claims of insurance fraud. In 2010, these criminal investigators saw more than 402 cases successfully closed with more than $21.1 million in restitution and recoveries, 88 criminal convictions and 126 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. Information is also available at www.ncdoi.com.

--NCDOI--