crooks caught: insurance agents Milton Hooks and James Mangum
North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey said former insurance agents Milton Hooks and James Mangum targeted 81 senior citizens over seven years in 14 counties.
Investigators recovered all $11 million and refunded the victims.
"Any way you cut it, preying on our senior citizens is wrong,” Causey said.
Investigators said the son of one of the victims was an insurance agent and was worried about his parents' investments. He tipped off investigators, who said they never would have known otherwise.
“Speaking with every single victim, it was the same pattern, the same lie that they were told, the same deceit,” said insurance investigator Shane Guyant.
Investigators said Hooks and Mangum tricked victims out of $11 million by moving money out of 401Ks and life insurance policies and into certain annuities without their permission.
“The victims had no idea that this had happened,” Guyant said.
Investigators said it was a Mecklenburg County victim who led them to four other victims, who each gave Hooks and Mangum money.
"This money was put into Mr. Hooks and Mr. Mangum’s personal banking account and was laundered back out for their own personal use, to buy their own personal things, to go on their own personal trips,” Guyant said.
Because all the month was recovered, the judge suspended their sentences, and they will not have to go to prison.
"Most of the defendants that come to court have already spent the money,” said Seth Edwards, a district attorney from Eastern North Carolina.