Skip to main content
Press Release

Former Insurance Agent Sentenced to Prison for Fraud Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – An Ashburn woman was sentenced today to two years in prison for engaging in a fraud scheme that resulted in an attempted loss of approximately $182,000.

Semyya Cunningham, 41, was convicted by a federal jury on February 1. According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Cunningham was an agent and licensed representative of the Western Reserve Life Assurance Co. of Ohio, a company that issued life and other forms of insurance. In April 2014, Cunningham sold a life insurance policy to her close friend (identified in court records as Victim A). The policy included an accelerated death benefit option that permitted the holder, in the event he or she were ever diagnosed with a terminal illness, of claiming the proceeds before death. In July 2014, Victim A was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Shortly thereafter, Cunningham engaged in a scheme to fraudulently obtain the proceeds of the insurance policy for herself. Cunningham changed all of the contact information on the policy to her information, changed the beneficiaries on the policy from Victim A’s family members to friends of hers, and submitted a claim for the accelerated death benefit without Victim A’s knowledge or consent. Western Reserve paid the claim, and because the contact info had been changed to Cunningham’s information, the check was mailed to Cunningham’s residence. Cunningham then deposited the money into her own account, and then transferred the bulk of the money through several accounts in an apparent attempt to prevent the transaction from being reversed.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Nancy McNamara, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and Jay N. Lerner, Inspector General of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC-OIG), made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew Burke and Grace L. Hill prosecuted the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:17-cr-177.


Joshua Stueve
Director of Communications

Updated September 7, 2018

Financial Fraud