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OFF BEAT: Best of November

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Tom Hanks, others defrauded by broker

The sleuth powers depicted by actor Tom Hanks in such films as “The Da Vinci Code” and “Angels & Demons” apparently did little to prevent him from falling victim to an insurance scam allegedly orchestrated over more than a decade.

According to an indictment handed down Oct. 30 by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles, Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based insurance broker Jerry B. Goldman overbilled numerous clients — including Mr. Hanks — by as much as 600% since January 1998, pocketing more than $800,000.

The 10-count indictment says Mr. Goldman negotiated premiums for insurance coverage on behalf of his clients and was paid commissions by the insurance provider on each policy. Then Mr. Goldman allegedly created fraudulent invoices on his company’s letterhead that inflated the premiums due. Later, when clients requested copies of their insurance policies, Mr. Goldman allegedly redacted the true premium from policy documentation to prevent his clients from discovering that they had been overcharged.

However, Mr. Goldman pleaded not guilty to the charges during his arraignment last week.

If convicted, each of the 10 counts of mail fraud alleged in the indictment carry a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.

Bloomberg photo