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Duluth Man Charged for Fictitious Wedding Ring Insurance Claims

Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley announced today that criminal charges were recently filed against Joseph Thomas, 33, of Duluth, Minnesota. The St. Louis County Attorney’s Office charged Thomas with two counts of insurance fraud stemming from his filing of several fraudulent insurance claims involving lost wedding rings.

Based on an investigation conducted by the Commerce Fraud Bureau (CFB), it was determined Thomas filed the first of three insurance claims in 2017. The criminal complaint states that after Thomas claimed he lost two rings in May 2017 having a value of nearly $3,500, he was paid $2,500 – the maximum allowed by his policy.

Thomas then increased his insurance rider to $7,500 in July 2018. Thomas filed another claim in November 2018, claiming that another set of rings worth more than $13,000 had been lost. Thomas received a payout of $7,500. As part of this investigation, a CFB special agent obtained records showing Thomas submitted forged documents to inflate the value of the rings.

“Insurance fraud affects everyone in this state, and the dedicated agents and analysts at the Commerce Fraud Bureau work incredibly hard to protect all Minnesotans from those who prey on others,” said Commerce Commissioner Kelley.

The criminal complaint further states that Thomas filed a third insurance claim purporting to have lost wedding rings in May 2019. In his third claim, Thomas reported several rings were lost during a move, totaling more than $10,000. The insurance company became suspicious of Thomas’ repeated losses and uncovered numerous discrepancies in his claim. Thomas’ third claim was denied and the insurer referred the case to the CFB.

According to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, it is estimated that insurance fraud costs Americans more than $80 billion each year. Those losses are paid for through increased insurance premiums.

“Insurance fraud will not be tolerated in Minnesota,” added CFB Director Michael Marben.

Criminal complaints and indictments stemming from CFB investigations, including those noted above, are posted online.

A criminal complaint is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The Commerce Fraud Bureau is a law enforcement agency within the Minnesota Department of Commerce charged with conducting criminal investigations involving insurance fraud and related crimes.

Commerce is here to Help

If you have a question or concern about a possible scam or fraud scheme, contact the Department of Commerce Consumer Services Center at consumer.protection@state.mn.us or by phone at 651-239-1600 or 800-657-3602. Learn more at mn.gov/commerce

With You Every Day

Wherever you are in Minnesota, the Department of Commerce is with you every day. The Department of Commerce oversees more than 20 regulated industries, ensuring that Minnesota businesses are strong and Minnesota consumers are protected. Our mission is to protect the public interest, advocate for Minnesota consumers, ensure a strong, competitive and fair marketplace, strengthen the state’s economic future and serve as a trusted public resource for consumers and businesses. 

Media Contacts

St Louis County Attorney’s Office Duluth office main line, 218-726-2323

Brian Strub Minnesota Department of Commerce brian.strub@state.mn.us 651-539-1464

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