Former Insurance Agent who Scammed Elderly Faces 24 Years in Prison

Mugshot of Brett Lovett (courtesy)

Brett Lovett, a former insurance agent and member of Carpinteria’s Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, has been convicted for scamming vulnerable community members and is facing a proposed prison sentence of up to 24 years and eight months.

The recommendation for this term comes from Santa Barbara County probation officer Lindsay Whitmeyer, outlined in the sentencing report for Judge Pauline Maxwell.

While Lovett had no prior criminal record, Whitmeyer suggested a lengthy prison sentence instead of probation after characterizing Lovett’s actions as “reprehensible.

Lovett’s fraud scheme amassed $1.1 million from nine victims, some of whom were elderly and mentally or physically vulnerable.

According to Whitmeyer’s sentencing report, Lovett exploited the trust of his victims, leaving several homeless and destitute, particularly devastating as some of them had entrusted him with their life savings intended for retirement.

One victim, a 77-year-old man from Kingdom Hall, befriended Lovett during family turmoil and ended up being swindled out of $133,000. Another victim, an elderly member of the same church, entrusted $176,000 from the sale of her house to Lovett, leading to prolonged hospitalization due to the financial and emotional stress.

Additionally, Lovett attempted to manipulate his victims in various ways, including coercing one of his victims into allowing him access to their credit rating and misusing their credit card for personal expenses that included hair transplants and breast implants for his girlfriend.

A Santa Barbara jury found Lovett guilty on multiple fraud counts in March. The former licensed insurance agent was charged with 29 felony counts including grand theft, elder abuse, money laundering, and burglary.

Lovett was arrested in October 2017 after the California Department of Insurance’s investigation revealed that between 2011 and 2016, he defrauded at least nine victims.

“This former licensed insurance agent preyed on innocent senior citizens to line his pockets with no regard for his victims’ wellbeing,” said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. “Thanks to the hard work by my Department investigators and the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office his victims will have justice.”

Lovett has a history of embezzling money from members of the places of worship he attends. In 2007, doing business as Northwest Asset Fund, he was ordered to pay more than $675,900 in restitution, fines and sanctions by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

Lovett never paid the fines or restitution. The CFTC entered a permanent injunction against Lovett, who never registered with the CFTC.

Between October 2002 and August 2005, Lovett fraudulently solicited money from individuals, purportedly to trade commodity futures, through false promises of high returns from a low-risk investment.

Lovett’s license to transact insurance expired in May 2000. He was not acting as an insurance agent during this time, but he was giving financial advice which he was not licensed to give.

Judge Pauline Maxwell is expected to make a ruling on Lovett’s sentencing on June 7.

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