(Memphis) A man police say pretended to be an insurance agent and scammed a Memphis woman out of $20,000 dollars has been charged with theft and insurance fraud.
Eric Boyland said Jerry Gardner took $146 in life insurance payments from his elderly mother Shannon Boyland for more than 15 years.
He discovered the policy was no good last month after his mother died and he tried to use the insurance money to help pay for her funeral.
He also discovered Gardner didn't work for the insurance company on the insurance forms and had not been licensed in the state since 2008.
"It sounds like it was a scam for all those years," said Randy Hutchinson with the BBB.
Boyland says his mother made payments to the man she thought was an insurance agent with the cash.
The Better Business Bureau say that's the first red flag that something isn't right.
The BBB says all the payments should be made with a check or money order and directly to the insurance company.
"You want to get a receipt for any payment you've made and again, hopefully, that receipt is coming from the insurance company," said Hutchinson.
Hutchinson says before you choose an agent get references from family and friends, verify the agent's license with the state, check them out with the BBB and be wary of any insurance agent that pressures you into buying insurance or gives you a quote that seems too low.
In Tennesseee, you can check the background of an insurance agent with the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, in Mississippi you can check them out with the Mississippi Insurance Department and in Arkansas with the Arkansas Insurance Department.