NCDOI launches first Criminal Investigations Reserve Unit to fight fraud

North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey has organized its first Criminal Investigations Reserve Unit to combat the extensive number of fraud cases in the state. The new inductees, four veteran law enforcement personnel, were sworn-in Thursday at a ceremony at the Albemarle Building at 325 N. Salisbury Street in Raleigh.

“Today’s ceremony is a testament to the character of these men and women who are donating their time to fight fraud – a top priority of mine,” said Commissioner Causey. “Fraud costs about 18 cents of every dollar we pay for insurance premiums. With their help — with each arrest — we can save consumers’ money.”

Thursday’s four inductees understand how pervasive fraud is across North Carolina. Their law enforcement backgrounds include a former sheriff and retired state trooper, a former police chief and expert investigator, a money laundering expert and Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE) officer, and an arson investigator and SWAT, fire and emergency management expert.

They join the force of 40 full-time agents serving North Carolinians across the state. Because of the Commissioner’s commitment to fighting fraud, the number of fraud arrests have more than doubled since he took office. In 2016, the Criminal Investigations Division made arrests in 57 of the 100 North Carolina counties; in 2018, those arrests increased to 93 of the state’s 100 counties.

Special Agent Tom Anderson is a 27-year law enforcement veteran who started his career as a patrol officer with the Statesville Police Department and rose through the ranks to become the Chief of Police from 2008 until 2015. Anderson served in multiple law enforcement assignments that included patrol operations, criminal investigations-internal affairs, special operations and community services. In 2015, Anderson began serving in a newly created position as public safety risk manager with the N.C. League of Municipalities.

Special Agent Lauren Burch is a 13-year veteran of law enforcement from Carteret County and a former Alcohol Law Enforcement agent. She holds several certifications including an Advanced Law Enforcement certificate. She has served on numerous task forces including the IRS money laundering task force.

Special Agent Robert A. Graves has 39 years of experience in law enforcement. After retiring as lieutenant in the State Highway Patrol, he continued to serve as a reserve deputy with the Randolph County Sheriff’s office to ultimately become the Randolph County sheriff.

Special Agent Robert “Banzai” W. McLaughlin Jr. has 26 years of both law enforcement and public safety experience. He gained extensive SWAT, fire and EMT experience while serving with both the Durham Fire Department as arson investigator and the Durham Police Department as a lieutenant. After leaving Durham, he worked for N.C. Central University Police as the emergency management coordinator and tactical trainer.

NCDOI’s criminal investigators are sworn, state law enforcement officers authorized to carry firearms, make arrests, conduct searches and present cases at all levels of prosecution. They work in cooperation with the insurance industry, state and federal law enforcement agencies and prosecutors. They investigate crimes involving insurance fraud, and criminal violations that deal with bail bonding.

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Angela Brown
Angela Brown is the author of our Business & Economy section.