Attorney General Hubert Humphrey III and County Attorney Michael Junge announced the filing of an amended criminal complaint alleging David Joseph Juris, a former independent insurance agent, stole more than $298,000 from 33 former clients. From 1983 through 1996, Juris was a licensed insurance agent in Minnesota in the area of life and health insurance.
The complaint alleges that from July, 1995 through August, 1997, Juris met with his clients, most of them senior citizens, in their homes and suggested they purchase annuities. Juris recommended they use loan proceeds from existing insurance policies to purchase these annuities. According to the complaint, Juris convinced his clients to make the check for the annuity payable to him personally, rather than an insurance company.
After receiving this money, the complaint alleges that Juris cashed these checks and used the money for his own personal benefit, rather than purchasing an annuity for his clients. Juris' insurance license lapsed in October, 1996.
The case came to light when the Commerce Department received a complaint from a victim's son, alleging that his father gave money to Juris and failed to receive any annuity. Other victims subsequently came forward and reported they had been swindled by Juris. Based on these allegations of misappropriation of client funds, the department revoked Juris' license and referred the matter to the Attorney General's Office.
The amended complaint as filed charged Juris with four counts of theft. Juris is currently incarcerated in the McLeod County Jail. To date, the investigation has revealed 33 alleged victims located in 21 counties with a total loss among the victims of at least $298,000.
The complaint was filed in McLeod County. A trial date has been set for March 24. Criminal charges are allegations which must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt before a conviction is obtained. The Attorney General's Office has worked with county attorneys in filing these charges.
"If senior citizens think they have been a victim of David Juris, I encourage them to contact my office or their local county attorney," Humphrey said.
Humphrey also suggested several steps to avoid being swindled by an insurance agent. Consumers are advised to:
Verify with the Commerce Department that the agent is licensed with the state to sell insurance.
Make all checks or money orders payable to the insurance company, not an agent.
Ask for copies of all documents. Legitimate companies will send a policy after a payment has been made and send bills to a home or business address.
Never pay in cash-use a check or a credit card. Cash transactions make it easy for a con artist to steal because there is no way to trace the payment or to prove a consumer made it.
Consumers can learn more about scams targeting senior citizens and information about their legal rights by calling the Attorney General's Office at 1-800-657-3787 or viewing the Attorney General's Web Page at www.ag.state.mn.us/consumer.