Company Pays $ 1 Million After California Department of Insurance Alleges Employee Broke Law
First American Title Co. agreed to pay $ 1 million after a California Department of Insurance investigation alleged that one of its securities marketers violated state law protecting consumers from conflicts of interest that can inflate the cost of real estate transactions. First American agreed to pay $ 50,000 to settle similar allegations against another employee in January.
CDI’s investigation concluded that Eugene Bleecker, a former First American marketing representative in North Los Angeles County, had consistently violated anti-incentive laws by offering illegal benefits to realtors, including video marketing. personalized, a tourist bus caravan to get agents to view and promote listings, social media training and sales coaching.
The investigation found that Bleecker managed a real estate networking group of about 600 members called the Advisory Group Real Estate Network, with chapters in the Santa Clarita, Antelope and San Fernando valleys. He was the group’s sole marketing rep and decided when and where to start new chapters, and who could join or stay in the group, according to the CDI.
First American encouraged Bleecker’s participation in the advisory group despite internal guidelines to comply with anti-incentive laws, such as avoiding helping others with marketing services or methods of growing their business, according to CDI. Interviews with Bleecker’s executives and a review of internal communications reportedly showed the company advocating a hands-off approach to overseeing its operations because of the volume of business Bleecker brings to the company.
The agreement with First American includes $ 185,000 to reimburse the CDI’s investigative and legal costs. The ministry’s action against Bleecker’s individual license to act as the title’s marketing representative remains unresolved.
In another case in January 2021, First American agreed to pay $ 50,000 to resolve allegations against another employee who also violated anti-incentive laws.
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