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Mike Longaecker, Forum News Service, Published December 10 2013

Minnesota man accused of fleecing insurance company to buy engagement ring

STILLWATER, Minn. – A Woodbury man suspected of swindling an insurance company out of more than $25,000 is facing fraud and theft charges.

A special agent with the state’s Department of Commerce Fraud Bureau arrested Alberto Jose Marzan, 38, at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Nov. 27 after an eight-month investigation into allegations he fraudulently filed an insurance claim for the loss of a diamond engagement ring.

Washington County prosecutors charged Marzan on Dec. 2 with one count of insurance fraud and one count of theft by swindle, both felonies.

According to a criminal complaint, Marzan filed a claim with Liberty Mutual Group in March for an engagement ring that had been lost or stolen. The claim was made about six months after Marzan added a jewelry insurance provision to the policy for a ring valued at $31,000 that he said had been purchased at Continental Diamond, the complaint states.

The insurance group issued Marzan a check for $25,924 about two weeks after the claim was filed.

Liberty Mutual Group received an anonymous tip in April that Marzan’s claim was fraudulent. The tipster said the original appraisal documentation was false “and (Marzan’s) entire claim was a scam,” the complaint states.

Authorities learned Marzan didn’t actually take possession of the ring – which included a 2.61-karat diamond centerpiece – until after he received the insurance company’s payout.

A manager at Clearwater, Fla.-based Gold and Diamond Source confirmed Marzan had put a ring on layaway in October 2012 and took possession of it April 18. The complaint says documentation used for proof of ownership was presented by Marzan while it was still in Gold and Diamond Source’s possession.

According to a search warrant, Marzan received the insurance company payout April 9. He then made three payments to the Florida jeweler between April 16 and 18 for a total of $21,500 and was then given possession of the ring, according to the warrant.

Undercover surveillance showed Marzan’s fiancée – also of Woodbury – wearing the ring, the warrant states. The ring was recovered after police executed a search warrant at Marzan’s residence.

The complaint states that after the warrant was executed Nov. 1, Marzan terminated his apartment lease and bought a ticket for a flight departing Minneapolis on Nov. 27. The Commerce Department agent arrested Marzan at the airport.

Marzan was released from Washington County jail Dec. 2 on a conditional $5,000 bond.