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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Boston Man Pleads Guilty to Life Insurance Fraud Scheme

BOSTON – A Boston man pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston to a scheme to defraud numerous life insurance companies.  

Kellerman Jason Zheng, 33, pleaded guilty to mail and wire fraud. U.S. District Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton scheduled sentencing for June 18, 2020. Zheng was arrested and charged by criminal complaint in December 2019.

Between December 2016 and March 2018, Zheng took out at least 24 life insurance policies in his brother’s name. These policies, which carried total coverage limits in excess of $11.5 million, listed Zheng and his parents as the beneficiaries. Zheng’s brother however, had died months earlier, during a visit to China in April 2015. As part of the scheme, Zheng also took steps to make it appear as though his brother were still alive such as opening and using bank accounts in his brother’s name and renewing his brother’s Massachusetts Driver’s License. 

Later, Zheng also obtained a false Chinese death certificate for his brother indicating that his brother had died in August 2018, and used it to submit over $5 million in life insurance claims. Zheng admitted that his brother died prior to the inception of the insurance policies during meetings with an undercover agent who was posing as a claims manager willing to assist in the fraud scheme. 

The charges of mail and wire fraud each carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph W. Cronin, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Office made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jordi de Llano, Deputy Chief of Lelling’s Securities and Financial Fraud Unit, is prosecuting the case.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Component(s): 
Updated February 12, 2020