Local insurance broker faces federal charges; accused of defrauding insurance companies, customers out of over $1M

A local insurance broker who served parts of the Finger Lakes region is facing a number of federal charges after an investigation into fraud.

Brian Bartz, 38, has been charged with wire fraud, attempted wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Prosecutors say Bartz wrote fake life insurance policy applications for individuals who had no idea he was doing it. He then used the victims’ bank accounts to pay for premiums.

Altogether he defrauded investors and insurance companies out of about $950,000 between 2015 and 2020.

Following an audit by Nationwide, for which the Benjamin Hollamby Agency sells policies, it was reportedly found an inordinate amount of policies sold by Bartz had lapsed payments, according to prosecutors. Several of the policy holders had no idea about them.

Bartz is also accused of trying to defraud customers through a Ponzi scheme. Prosecutors say he would convince customers to make payments directly to him, or to make payments to an investment fund under his control. Those funds, prosecutors say, didn’t actually exist.

Customers were defrauded out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. If he’s convicted, Bartz could face 20 years in prison.