A local insurance agent is facing charges after being accused of taking people's money but not paying the insurance company.
After someone tried to break into Doug Smith's home in Catawba County a few weeks ago, he made a disturbing discovery: his homeowner's insurance policy was canceled a year ago.
Smith had coverage with Heritage Insurance through agent Ben Moseley for $500 a year. He said he investigated and discovered Moseley had taken the money from his escrow but never paid it to Smith's insurance company.
“I could have lost everything I have,” Smith said. “I'm 66 years old. If my house had burned down, I'd be out on the street with nothing.”
Whistleblower 9 started looking into Moseley's business dealings and found out the North Carolina Department of Insurance has been investigating him for months.
In August, Moseley gave up his license after the DOI found two dozen cases where it said he “intentionally failed to forward insurance premiums” resulting “in the permanent cancellation of insurance policies without the knowledge and consent of the policy holders.”
The department estimates he owes $168,000 to various insurance companies -- money it says he collected from policy holders but never paid out.
No one answered the door at Moseley's home in Hickory, and the Heritage Insurance office is closed.
Because of all of this, Moseley now faces felony charges. He faces three counts of accessing computers "for the purpose of devising and executing a scheme to defraud Monthly Payment Plan Incorporated,” which is one of the companies named in the case.
Moseley's lawyer said there was no criminal intent for his client and that his client did not keep the money. He blames this on a financial hardship for his insurance business.
“He has tried very hard to work with the Department of Insurance,” said Scott Reilly, Moseley's attorney. “He has pumped thousands of his own money into that company to try to keep it afloat.”
The DOI said it found evidence that Heritage Insurance did not have enough money to pay some premiums that date as far back as 2008.
Although his attorney argues Moseley did everything he could to keep customers from going without insurance, Smith said he was left vulnerable. He was shocked when Whistleblower 9 showed him all the information found.
“But how many other people have been taken that were not on that report?” he said.
Smith said he doesn't expect to get his money back, but that he just wants to warn others.
“If you had insurance with Heritage, check your insurance policies.”
Mosely is expected in court to answer to those charges on Tuesday. His lawyer said he is also facing a civil lawsuit.
The Department of Insurance said it's still investigating the case and it wants to hear from anyone involved.