Regional scammers convicted

Published 12:20 pm Thursday, March 30, 2017

RALEIGH – North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey announced Wednesday the conviction of two retired insurance agents, Milton Hooks, 72, of Rocky Mount and James Mangum, 69, of Tarboro on six counts each of obtaining property by false pretense.

The case was the result of an extensive seven-year investigation in 14 counties, to include investment victims in Bertie and Hertford, conducted by the NC Department of Insurance’s Criminal Investigation Division. Hooks and Mangum targeted senior citizens in a regional scam that involved the reallocation of money people had in savings and insurance policies.

“Preying on our senior citizens is wrong,” said Causey. “I am pleased NCDOI criminal investigators were able to recover nearly $11 million in this important case that hopefully will help deter white collar crime like this in North Carolina.”

Department of Insurance criminal investigators brought the case against Hooks and Mangum for influencing 77 victims across North Carolina to remove money from their 401-K and other life insurance policies and put it into an annuity product known as a “Fixed Indexed Annuity” from 2004 to 2011. Hooks and Mangum used their credibility as fiduciaries to move approximately $11 million into various annuity accounts with three companies that sold these products and garnered over $620,000 in commission payment for the sale of these products under false pretense.

As part of a plea agreement with the court, these victims were refunded their initial investment plus interest by the companies to the victims.

It was discovered during the investigation that Hooks and Mangum also influenced four victims into making individual $316,000 investments which they directly diverted into their bank accounts and laundered the money for their own personal use. These four victims were repaid the money directly from Hooks and Mangum as an additional part of their plea agreement.

Superior Court Judge Thomas H. Lock dismissed 100 counts of obtaining property by false pretense across Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Chowan, Cumberland, Edgecombe, Halifax, Hertford, Hoke, Martin, Mecklenburg, Robeson, Wake and Washington counties and suspended Hooks and Mangum’s sentence because all the victims would be repaid the money that was defrauded from them.

An estimated 10 cents of every dollar paid in premiums goes toward the payment of fraudulent claims.

The Department of Insurance employs 20 sworn state law enforcement officers dedicated to investigating and prosecuting claims of insurance and bail bonding fraud.

To report suspected fraud, contact the Department of Insurance Criminal Investigations Division at 919-807-6840. Callers may remain anonymous. Information is also available at