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Texan Gets 24 Years for Life Insurance Scam

DALLAS (CN) - A North Texas insurance agent was sentenced to more than 24 years in federal prison for his role in a $4 million life insurance scam that used elderly straw buyers.

Vincent Bazemore, 40, formerly of Aubrey, Texas, was sentenced Friday to 292 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $4.01 million in restitution.

A jury deliberated for just an hour before convicting him of four counts of mail fraud in July 2013.

Bazemore worked as an insurance agent in Denton County from October 2007 to April 2009. He issued stranger-initiated life insurance policies, or STOLIs, for applicants of modest financial means, according to the October 2012 indictment . Bazemore misrepresented the straw buyers to insurance companies as wealthy people seeking insurance for estate-planning purposes. He then transferred the policies to investors - a practice condemned by insurance companies.

"STOLI policies circumvent state insurable interest laws and are inconsistent with the established and legitimate purposes of life insurance," the indictment stated. "In order to deter STOLI policies, life insurance companies required applicants to meet certain standards."

Prosecutors said Bazemore solicited elderly people to apply for policies by claiming the life insurance was an investment with no financial cost or exposure and would result in a sizable monetary benefit to heirs.

"Bazemore prepared the applications and related documents on behalf of the applicants that contained forged signatures and falsified financial information to induce the life insurance companies into issuing the policies," prosecutors said in a statement Friday.

"Bazemore also submitted the false and fraudulent applications and related documents to financial institutions to obtain premium financing on the policies. ... Bazemore had agreements with insurance companies and managing agents that provided he would receive, for each policy issued on an application he submitted, a commission of 95 to 105 percent of the first year's premium paid on the policy." Insurance companies to which Bazemore submitted applications include Principal Life Insurance Company, Transamerica Occidental Life Insurance Company, ING Annuity and Life Insurance Company, John Hancock Life Insurance Company, Sun Life Assurance Company and Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.

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