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Forgery, identity theft, and insurance fraud charges filed against former lawyer, “trustee” of estate

Minnesota Department of Commerce investigation uncovers scheme to defraud estate, asks public to identify possible additional victims

February 26, 2013

For Immediate Release:

SAINT PAUL, MN – Formal charges have been filed in Ramsey County District Court on allegations that Saint Paul and Spooner, WI resident Linda A. Brost committed a litany of offenses, including insurance fraud, theft by swindle, aggravated forgery, and identity theft.  This morning, the Department of Commerce Insurance Fraud Division, assisted by the St. Paul Police Department, Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office and Washburn County (WI) Sheriff’s Office, executed search warrants at Brost’s St. Paul and Spooner, Wisconsin residences.  During the execution of the warrants, Brost was arrested and is currently at the Ramsey County Jail.  According to a criminal investigation conducted by the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s Insurance Fraud Division, Brost allegedly forged documents and stole the identity of her deceased client with the purpose to obtain at least $46,769 from his estate.

“Insurance and financial crimes victimize all of us, and our joint efforts with state and local law enforcement show we can stop these fraudsters,” said Commissioner Mike Rothman.   “Insurance fraud often goes hand-in-glove with other criminal activity like identity theft, which shows the far reaching impact of these crimes.”

“We take financial fraud very seriously and this criminal scheme is no exception,” said Ramsey County Attorney John Choi.  “I want to thank the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s Insurance Fraud Unit for their diligence and hard work to bring this case forward.”

Commissioner Mike Rothman and Ramsey County Attorney John Choi caution all Minnesotans that insurance fraud is a crime with serious criminal consequences.

The Commerce Department initially uncovered the actions of Linda A. Brost, 61, during a routine review of information provided by Jackson National Life Insurance Company, the insurer of the victim’s two annuity policies.  The case was then referred to the Commerce Department’s Insurance Fraud Division to conduct a criminal investigation.

Law enforcement officers at the Department immediately commenced a criminal investigation into the allegations against Brost.  According to the criminal complaint, Brost was hired by Arthur Fischbach to draft his last will and testament. After gifts were distributed to personal friends, his wishes detailed the remaining assets were to become part of an estate to be split between the Church of St. Francis De Sales and the Shriners Hospital.  

The complaint alleges that after drafting Fischbach’s last will and testament in 1993 and Fischbach’s subsequent death in 2005, Brost used her deceased husband’s expired notary stamp, altered the expiration date and forged his signature to fraudulently notarize her own signature on a certificate of trust for her client, Fischbach.  At that time, Brost was unsuccessful in her attempt to access approximately $140,000 in Fischbach’s account.  The fraudulent notary stamp and failed attempt to access the funds resulted in the Supreme Court of Minnesota to suspend Brost’s license to practice law. 

The criminal complaint states that in 2010, five years after his death, Jackson National Life Insurance sent letters to Mr. Fischbach using Brost’s address to notify him that his annuities were nearing their maturity date.  After multiple notification letters sent to Brost’s address, over the span of nine months, Jackson National received two signed validity letters, one for each policy, purportedly signed by Arthur Fischbach which were witnessed by Brost.

On February 23, 2011, it is alleged that a checking account was established for the Trust of Arthur Fischbach, with Linda Brost identified as Trustee.  Subsequently, Brost created an email address to communicate with Jackson National first for direct deposit of the monthly annuity payments and secondly, to request information for full surrender of the annuity in the sum of $28,641.60.  

The complaint further states, that the investigation conducted by the Commerce Department was able to establish the origin and login history of the “Arthur Fischbach” email address used to communicate with Jackson National in connection with the annuity surrender and direct deposit of money, all of which has been linked to Linda Brost.  Further, the Department’s Insurance Fraud Division examined the bank account records of the Fischbach Trust, which revealed that Brost converted the money from the account and personally used the funds. All total, Brost stole at least $46,769 from Fischbach’s estate.

Based on these allegations and evidence, Linda A. Brost has been charged with six counts including insurance fraud, theft by swindle, and identity theft, all felony crimes that carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison or a fine of up to $20,000 respectively.

What should I do if I suspect insurance fraud?

The Commerce Department urges individuals to contact the Insurance Fraud Division if they or their loved ones worked with Linda A. Brost in their estate planning.  

Call the Insurance Fraud Prevention Division at 1-888-FRAUDMN (1-888-372-8366) to report suspected insurance fraud.

More information about insurance fraud in Minnesota can be found on the Minnesota Department of Commerce website.

How can I protect my estate from fraud?

Estate planning is important as you evaluate the needs of your family and loved ones upon your death.  As you plan for your estate, you will need to decide to appoint someone to distribute your assets as directed.  This is a serious responsibility that needs serious consideration.  

  • Pick a trusted individual – a family member who you believe can carry out your wishes, or a neutral entity like a lawyer.
  • It is critical, however, to find a lawyer who is competent in estate law.
  • Ask your lawyer to provide his or her records of performance in investing and managing trust income for your review
  • Discuss your wishes with your beneficiaries and provide detailed instructions to ensure that your estate is distributed appropriately upon your death.