A former agent pleads guilty

A former insurance agent pleaded guilty to scamming $505,126.43 from his clients.

A joint investigation including the Oklahoma Insurance Department Anti-Fraud Unit led to the charges against Gary Edward Hibbing, 52, formerly of Grove.

“Fraud is something I won’t tolerate,” said Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak. “It is imperative that consumers be able to trust their insurance agent or broker. I want to thank the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma, the IRS and the Arkansas Insurance Department for their assistance in this case. It was truly a team effort.”

Through the joint investigation, Oklahoma Insurance Department investigators found that Hibbing, former owner of Grand Lake Investments and Insurance, conned his victims through a scheme called “twisting.”

It is an insurance industry term that refers to the fraudulent practice by an insurance agent of convincing a client to surrender an existing annuity or policy in a disadvantageous exchange for a new one.

“Because there is a penalty for early termination of an annuity, the client loses money while the agent makes money on a new commission.

Hibbing admitted in court that he lied to his clients to convince them to surrender their existing annuities and immediately purchase new ones. He intentionally failed to disclose early termination penalties. He also provided false information to insurance companies to facilitate his scheme.

Investigators found twisting tied to 80 different annuity policies from Oct. 17, 2007 to March 4, 2013.

Although the Oklahoma Insurance Department revoked Hibbing’s license on March 4, 2013, he continued to sell annuities by forging another agent’s name to transact business.

“The defendant perpetrated a scheme to defraud his clients who entrusted him with their annuities,” said U.S. Attorney Danny C. Williams. “My office and our law enforcement partners are committed to an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. We are committed to ensuring that justice is provided for the victims.”

Hibbing pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud and two counts of unlawful monetary transactions. Sentencing is scheduled on July 12. He faces imprisonment terms ofup to 20 years on the wire fraud counts and up to 10 years on the unlawful monetary transaction counts.