Investigators raid Cairo insurance agency - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Investigators raid Cairo insurance agency

September 26, 2007

Cairo--  Investigators say the victims of the scam are Hispanic immigrants and the woman taking advantage of them claims to be the leader of a phony Indian tribe. Investigators think she sold the victims fraudulent insurance policies and tried to convince them they could become legal U.S. residents by joining her tribe.

Wednesday morning's raid on Annex, a legitimately licensed insurance agency came after reports trickled into Sheriff Harry Young of some not so legitimate activity.  "I had some people come to me about a month ago complaining that they were getting charged outlandish fees for identification cards," explains Grady Couty Sheriff Harry Young. 

The Department of Insurance's Chief Investigator Steve Sprouse adds, "What we're looking at right now is allegations that some immigrants are being signed up down here in a scheme."

When the state insurance commissioners office was called in to help, they uncovered more complaints.  "What is alleged is there has been some assistance to provide documentation that helps them either in some of the title issues on vehicles and the purchase of insurance," explains Sprouse.

Agents removed computers and boxes of files to aid in the investigation but they say the biggest piece of the puzzle could be victims who've been defrauded that come forward.  "We understand that they may not want to do this because they may not be in the country legally but we're not after those folks. I'm not on the immigration side of it, but we do feel like some have been victimized as a result of what's gone on," assured Sprouse.

Right now the investigation is centered around a woman who goes by the name of Chief Rachel Pashman.  They say it seems she's been recruiting the immigrants for an organization called the Georgia Kokeneshv Natchez Nation. 

 "Apparently for a fee has been receiving funds from some of these immigrants that basically they're being told that once they purchase these items, they can not be deported," says Sprouse.  While even the website for the group seems convincing, investigators have discovered the American Indian organization is not licensed in the state of Georgia.

Investigators made no arrests Wednesday. They say it may take time to piece together the evidence they gathered at the office.

Georgia Insurance investigators say every insurance application filed in someone else's name carries a separate charge. So depending on how many immigrants were victims, there could be some stiff penalties.

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