Rick Horney owns a commercial painting business in Gaston County. Owning your own company usually starts with protecting it.
"The first thing we had to do was go and get insurance," Horney said.
A friend recommended Charlotte based HBL Insurance, owned by Harry Laughlin. Rick got a good deal, well over 5 million dollars in coverage for just over $2,000. Rick didn't have a reason to suspect that he paid for a policy investigators say, was never written.
"I called the carrier themselves and come to find out they had never even heard of my company. The account number that was on the paper was not even an account number that was through their business," Horney said.
The NC Dept of Insurance says Harry Laughlin did the same thing to 10 clients. Investigators say Laughlin took 27-thousand dollars in premium payments and put that money in his pocket. Rick considers himself lucky in this case. "What a surprise that would have been if we'd have broke something and turned it in and found out you didn't have insurance."
Laughlin was arrested Wednesday and charged with 28 counts of embezzlement by an insurance agent. He was released from the Mecklenburg County jail on bond.
BBB officials suggest, before you pay an agent for a policy, check with the underwriter to make sure both the policy and the agent are legit.