"Hobo Prince" ordered to stop selling illegal insurance in WA

From a press release we just issued:
OLYMPIA, Wash. – A Clark County man who promises years’ worth of weekly $900 payouts in exchange for a one-time $25 signup fee has been ordered to stop selling illegal insurance in Washington.

The order was issued Monday by the Washington state Office of the Insurance Commissioner, Mike Kreidler.

Shelby Horatio Bell, doing business as “Hobo Prince Economic Project,” has held seminars in Washington and Oregon, encouraging people to sign up for his plan. Once a participant pays a one-time $25 fee, Bell promises to pay the participant $900 a week for seven years.

He maintains that each person’s contract is financed through a complex series of transactions, including issuance of a $500,000 “reverse” insurance policy purchased with a $25,000 payment from an unnamed bank. A contract obtained by Kreidler's Legal Affairs Investigators named a well-known insurer and one of its brokers – neither of which have any insurance arrangement with Bell or his program. In another contract, Bell maintained that he was the insurer.

Neither Bell nor his companies (Hobo Prince Economic Project and an Oregon company known as Be’Rio Transports) are authorized to transact insurance in Washington state. The arrangement being offered violates multiple provisions of the state’s insurance code.

Kreidler’s office repeatedly tried to contact Bell by phone and mail. Reached by cell phone at one point, Bell agreed to meet with a state investigator, but then didn’t show up for the appointment.

The cease and desist order requires Bell and his companies to immediately stop selling, offering, or soliciting any insurance in Washington. It also bars him from transacting insurance business in the state.

Nothing in the order prevents Bell or his companies from fulfilling the contracts that he has already entered into. Nor does it prevent him from refunding money paid by Washington consumers.

Bell has the right to demand a hearing to contest the order.

The full order can be found at: http://www.insurance.wa.gov/oicfiles/orders/2012orders/12-0076.pdf

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