NU Online News Service, Nov. 13, 2003, 5:44 p.m. EST – Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger says she thinks her state’s insurance agents are happy that the Kansas Insurance Department has set up a new fraud unit.

“When you have a few people doing something that casts a shadow over the professionalism of the industry and the agent community, it’s not good for them,” Praeger says. “Ninety-nine point nine percent of our agents do a really good job, and it’s in their best interest to pursue those who [do] not.”

The new fraud unit is part of the Kansas department’s legal division. The attorneys for the fraud unit have assistant attorney general status, to give them the authority to file charges in court, Praeger says.

The unit will use fines to punish some “behaviors,” but the unit will prosecute acts of fraud involving a predetermined course of action intentionally designed to sell insurance fraudulently, Praeger says.

“In those cases, it’s not just enough to fine,” Praeger says. “Criminal actions should be pursued.”

The fraud unit recently announced its first prosecution. Working together with the Kansas attorney general and the Douglas County, Kansas, district attorney, the unit has filed a 14-count criminal complaint accusing an agent who was selling annuities of violating the Fraudulent Insurance Act and the statutes that prohibit forgery and making false information.