Money seized from crooked insurance agent returned to scam victims

SAN DIEGO — State Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara announced Monday that the state distributed more than $320,000 to 14 California residents who were scammed by a former San Diego insurance agent.

The state redistributed the restitution funds from assets seized from former insurance agent Shawn Heffernan when he was arrested in December 2017. In March 2018, Heffernan was sentenced to nine years in state prison after he pleaded guilty to nearly 30 felony counts of fraud and similar charges.

As part of his fraud scheme, Heffernan defrauded 15 victims to the tune of $1.5 million by spending funds meant for investment on personal expenses like jewelry, a Maserati and a wedding. Eight of Heffernan’s victims were seniors and one was a dependent adult.

“Heffernan targeted seniors on fixed incomes and left them financially devastated,” Lara said. “Thanks to the joint work of our investigators and the San Diego District Attorney’s Office, these victims will be able to recoup a portion of the money stolen from them.”

Investigators seized three rental condominiums from Heffernan and $75,000 from his bank account at the time of his arrest. The state Department of Insurance also revoked his insurance agent license last year after his conviction.

The San Diego District Attorney’s Office, U.S. Secret Service, San Diego Police Department and investigators with the California Department of Insurance investigated the case, according to Lara’s office.

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