SAN DIEGO — A Las Vegas couple has been charged with stealing almost $2 million from hundreds of elderly San Diego County residents by selling them fake insurance policies, prosecutors said Friday.
Michael Woodward, 50, and his wife Melisa, 47, were arrested on April 10 at their home in Las Vegas and extradited to San Diego, according to the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office. They have been charged with 11 felony counts, including burglary, grand theft, theft from an elder and tax evasion, prosecutors said. They each face up to 16 years in state prison if convicted of all charges.
“The defendants in this case were ruthless and heartless in the way they targeted the elderly and sold them fake insurance policies,” District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said.
Prosecutors say the couple swindled at least 238 San Diego seniors out of $1.9 million in insurance premiums over the last 10 years. They sold the victims phony policies that promised an unlimited amount of non-medical, in-home services, including cooking, cleaning, bathing and shopping assistance. To receive services, Michael Woodward allegedly told the victims they should call him and provide a doctor’s note.
The plan was a sham, investigators said. The Woodwards were the only employees of the company and did not provide any of the promised services, they added.
The Woodwards would provide inexpensive service requests through third-party providers, but they rejected or ignored claims for more expensive services, prosecutors said. Michael Woodward is also accused of routinely returning to victims’ homes to collect additional premiums, well beyond the original cost he quoted for the plan.
“The extent to which the Woodwards went to rip-off vulnerable seniors and attempt to hide their crime is shocking,” said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.