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07/10/2019

Ace Public Adjusters Owner, Two Employees Charged with Stealing More than $300,000 from Homeowners

Philadelphia, PA - District Attorney Larry Krasner on Wednesday announced charges against Anthony J. Hoffman (DOB: 12-29-1962), Deborah L. Felix (DOB: 3-27-1984), and Hartman J. Wismer (DOB: 7-17-1983) for defrauding more than 30 individuals out of more than $300,000.

Each defendant is charged with Insurance Fraud (F3 – 31 counts), Theft by Deception (F3 – 25 counts), Forgery (F3 – 31 counts), Conspiracy (F3), Theft by Deception (M1 – 5 counts), and Bad Checks (M1 – 4 Counts). Hoffman is in federal custody for federal income tax charges and Felix and Wismer turned themselves in.

“Anthony Hoffman, Deborah Felix, and Hartman Wismer are the very reason why we have an Economic Crimes Unit: so we can find and prosecute malicious businesses like Ace Public Adjusters that target, lie to, and steal from vulnerable homeowners who just want to repair their homes and resume their lives,” District Attorney Krasner said. “I’d like to thank Detective Donald Murtha and the Assistant District Attorneys who completed this investigation, our partners in the Pennsylvania Insurance Department for referring this case to us, and the National Insurance Crime Bureau for supporting our investigation.”

As Ace Public Adjusters (Ace – 7930 Frankford Ave.), the defendants signed contracts with complainants, many elderly, to represent them during their insurance claim process. Instead of properly overseeing the process and giving homeowners what was due to them, Hoffman, Felix, and Wismer stole nearly $300,000 for themselves.

“Our top priority is consumer protection,” Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman said. “Our department’s action in this case makes sure this company and these individuals will not harm any other consumers, and sends a message that my department, in conjunction with partners such as the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, will act quickly and forcefully to protect consumers when violations of law are found.”

All the homeowners had valid insurance policies and expected to receive reimbursement from their insurance carrier for damages. Hoffman owned Ace and employed his stepdaughter, Felix, as an office manager. Wismer, Felix’s fiancé, was a public adjuster at Ace. Ace Public Adjusters has since closed for business and the property is listed for sale.

One example of how Hoffman, Felix, and Wismer committed their crimes centers on the Wilson family, whose home was insured by Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. In January of last year, their home was severely damaged by burst water pipes. The homeowner, aged 81, met with Hoffman and signed a contract for Ace to represent her claim. According to the agreement, Ace was to earn 15 percent of the settlement for assisting with the homeowner’s claim. When the homeowner died, her daughter became the executor of the estate.

Between 2-13-2018 and 11-27-2018, Liberty issued seven checks totaling more than $127,000 to Ace as a settlement of the homeowner’s claim. Three of the checks were signed and cashed by Ace at a local check cashing agency. Ace did not give the estate’s executor her fair portion of each insurance check. Instead, between 7-19-2018 and 12-01-2018, Ace periodically issued 20 separate payments only totaling $90,774. In addition to the above payments, Ace issued Wilson three checks, totaling more than $13,000, which were returned for insufficient funds. The executor indicated that Ace breached their contract by not providing her and her family their fair portion of the insurance settlement. She also indicated during the investigation that Ace still owes her $36,251.

Upon completion of a joint investigation with the DAO, the Pennsylvania Insurance Department took swift action to revoke the licenses of Ace Public Adjusters, Hartman and Wismer. The department also took the firm’s required surety bond of $40,000, and used the money to reimburse, on a pro rata basis, the 24 consumers who had been harmed by Ace and defendants’ failing to remit the $247,258.72 in insurance payments made by insurers to the public adjusters on the consumers’ behalf.

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Jane Roh, 215-686-8711, jane.roh@phila.gov -

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