CLIFTON, Texas — A Central Texas insurance agent has had his office shut down and his ability to represent Farmers Insurance revoked after allegedly committing fraud.
Thomas Simpson has been charged with one count of forgery over $300,000 and two counts of theft over $2,500, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by 6 News. Simpson was arrested on May 15 and taken to Bosque County Jail where his bond was set at $100,000. He has since bonded out.
Clifton police worry there could be more victims, or people who are unaware about this type of crime, that's why Police Chief Chris Blanton is spreading awareness.
"It is a pretty widespread problem for a town our size," Blanton said.
Blanton has the one case filed with the district attorney, but told 6 News he already has a couple more on his desk that he needs to investigate. He believes there is dozens of victims.
"This person was taking money, not providing services that he was claiming he was providing, and was still doing this up until the week before he was arrested still soliciting people for insurance," the police chief explained.
In an email to 6 News, the Texas Department of Insurance said "agent fraud is when an insurance agent commits a crime by selling fake policies, or misrepresenting what a policy covers. A bad acting agent may not forward your premium—what you pay—on to the insurance company and just keep that money for themselves."
The way they describe agent fraud is exactly what's happening in Clifton.
"[Simpson] was using his personal bank account as his business account in commingling that money which I had found out through the Texas Department of Insurance that's kind of a no-no, for obvious reasons like this one," Blanton said. "These particular cases, that's what he was doing. The checks were made out to Farmers Insurance, but they weren't deposited into a Farmers account. They were deposited in his account."
Blanton told 6 News the crimes were happening mainly on lesser-used insurance policies like homeowners insurance, workers comp, and general liability.
Clifton Police Department's investigation shows Simpson has been allegedly committing the crimes since 2020, maybe even earlier.
Now Blanton is hoping to prevent more people from becoming a victim and bringing more knowledge about it.
"I know this family that this is affecting, and I know a lot of the other families it's affecting, but that's the job I took as the chief police to Clifton," he added.
In a small town like Clifton, everyone knows everyone. Blanton said this is shocking many in town and has also caused some problems. He said crime is crime and it needs to be stopped.
"Put yourself in the shoes of these folks that have spent all this money thinking they were covered with insurance and they're not. and had that happened to these people that are upset, would they want us to continue to allow this person to conduct business, knowing that what he's doing is wrong, or put a stop to it," Blanton said. "I made the decision and stand by the decision to put that press release out and to put a stop this."
How can you avoid agent fraud?
Here are some tips from the Texas Department of Insurance:
- Check with the insurance company, NOT the agent or agency, to make sure your policy exists and that the company has been getting your payments.
- Always pay your premium with a traceable payment such as a check or credit card.
- Make your payments to the insurance company, not the agent or agency.
- Ask for receipts that show how much you paid and the date it was paid.
- Keep and protect your insurance information. Along with a copy of the policy, keep receipts and any claim information.
- Always make sure your agent or company is licensed to sell insurance in Texas. You can check the status of an agent online at TDI.Texas.Gov or by calling the TDI Help Line at 800-252-3439.
- Check a company’s complaints and financial ratings. That can help indicate whether a company provides good customer service and if they’re financially stable.
- Take your time when buying insurance. Don't let an agent or company representative pressure you into making a hasty decision.
- If an agent is evasive when you ask about prices, coverage, or payment arrangements—that’s usually a bad sign.