Woman claims insurance rip-off - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Woman claims insurance rip-off

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August 20, 2004

Omega-- A Tift County woman says shes been defrauded out of money and insurance coverage. Teresa Mercer claims she paid for insurance coverage but says her agent pocketed her premium payments and she was left uninsured.

The nightmare started for Teresa Mercer six years ago when she was seriously hurt in a car wreck.

"The neurologist determined that I had a ruptured disk," she said. "One in my neck and three in my back. And I asked him what do you do, he said 'You have to have back surgery immediately,'" says Mercer.

Expensive Surgery that had to first be pre-approved by her insurance company. "When we contacted the insurance company they denied me coverage because they said they didn't have me in their files."

Mercer Claims the reason the company didn't have her on file was because the owner of Omega Insurance agency was taking her payments and pocketing the money. "When I realized that they had defrauded me out of insurance and all the information that the had defrauded me and I met Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine's assistant," she says.

But it took another customer coming forward two years to get the state to act.

All the while Mercer had to pay for the surgeries she could. Gary Richard Scarbor was the owner of Omega Insurance Agency denies Mercer's allegations.

"So you never defrauded any one of any money? "No never, never," says Scarbor.

But in 2002, Scarbor was charged with 11 counts of making fraudulent statements, 14 counts of theft by conversation, and two counts of fraudulent representation of insurance. He was also asked by State Insurance board to shut down his office.

Mercer says she's now working to push legislators to pass laws to require agencies like Omega to carry insurance against fraud. "It could be you. No one could have ever have told me that I did not have insurance coverage, no one told that could have happen I was paying for this to not happen," says Mercer.

Mercer says she will continue to fight for new legislation and continue spreading her story so that consumers take steps to protect themselves. It's important to point out that Gary Richard Scarbor has not been convicted of a crime.

posted at 4:10PM by dave.miller@walb.com