VALDOSTA, Ga. (WRBL) – A Norman Park, Georgia, resident pleaded guilty to wire fraud for defrauding a life insurance settlement company after falsely claiming herself as the recipient of a large policy on an individual who was in fact alive at the time of the fraud.
Brandi L. Browning, 35, pleaded guilty to wire fraud before U.S. District Judge Louis Sands on Tuesday, August 31.
Browning faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine, as well as mandatory restitution to the victim of the fraud. A sentencing date has been scheduled for December 9, 2021, in Albany, Georgia.
“Stealing from companies is not a victimless crime; it directly impacts people’s livelihoods by harming businesses that employ them. The ripple effect of this type of theft can be far-reaching,” said Peter D. Leary, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. “Working with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners, our office will hold fraudsters accountable.”
“To falsify the death of a person to commit insurance and wire fraud is truly reprehensible,” said Clint Bush, United States Secret Service, Resident Agent in Charge in a news release. “The United States Secret Service, along with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners will continue to aggressively investigate those who choose to commit this and other types of fraud in our community and around the nation.”
“When an individual commits fraud against a company, it affects hardworking citizens doing the right thing. This interstate case is an example of agencies working together across state lines to hold lawbreakers accountable,” said GBI Director Vic Reynolds in a news release.
According to court documents, Browning contacted a Kansas City financial company in late 2017, expressing a desire to sell a pending life insurance claim. Browning told the company that a friend had died in a car accident, and under the friend’s life insurance policy, Browning was entitled to receive $250,000.
Browning further told the Kansas City financial company that she was willing to sell her right to the $250,000 policy in exchange for $217,500. While the person Browning named did in fact have such a life insurance policy, Browning was not the named beneficiary of that policy, nor had the insured person died in an accident.
To further her fraud, Browning provided falsified documents and other fraudulent information to the Kansas City financial company, including an agreement with a fictitious attorney which claimed Browning was a party to a wrongful death lawsuit arising from the made-up car accident.
As a result of the fraud, on January 5, 2018, the company wired $217,500 to a bank account that belonged to Browning’s mother-in-law, who was unaware of the fraud.
Browning told her mother-in-law that the money was an inheritance her husband had received, and that same day checks were written to purchase two vehicles for Browning and her husband, as well as a $128,329 manufactured home in Browning’s name. Within weeks, all of the $217,500 had been spent.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), and the Sedgewick County, Kansas, District Attorney’s Office.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert D. McCullers is prosecuting the case for the Government.