Army Ranger, battalion commander charged for USAA insurance fraud scheme

Lt. Col.Christopher DeMure, incoming commander of 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, passes the battalion colors to Command Sgt. Maj. David Hanson, the battalion's senior enlisted advisor, during a change of command ceremony at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Aug. 30, 2016. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Ragin)

Anchorage, Alaska – U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder announced today that an officer of the U.S. Army has been charged for allegedly defrauding insurance providers to obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent insurance payments.

Christopher James DeMure, 40, a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army, has been named in a criminal complaint charging him with mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering.  DeMure was arrested this morning and is expected to make his initial appearance on the charges tomorrow afternoon.

The complaint alleges that, from September 2014 until February 2018, DeMure engaged in a scheme to defraud USAA Federal Savings Bank (USAA) and American Express (AMEX) to obtain insurance payments by submitting fraudulent claims and other fraudulent documents.  DeMure spent much of the insurance payout money to pay off automobile loans, credit cards, mortgage loans, and other personal debts and expenses, including a 2016 Chevrolet Suburban and a 2016 Audi A7.  In all, DeMure’s fraudulent insurance claims allegedly sought payments in the amount of approximately $475,000, and that DeMure has actually received approximately $394,000, from USAA and AMEX, combined.

More specifically, it is alleged that DeMure purchased items of value, such as jewelry, performance bicycles, clothing, and electronics that were later the subject of insurance claims that he filed with USAA and/or AMEX.  On multiple occasions, DeMure cancelled an online order for or physically returned items for a full refund, and thereafter listed those same items on a fraudulent insurance claim with USAA and/or AMEX, wherein he falsely claimed that the item was lost, misplaced, and/or stolen.  Beginning in October 2015, DeMure began to file parallel fraudulent insurance claims for certain items with both USAA and AMEX.  In some cases, DeMure provided different explanations for the loss, misplacement, or theft of those items to USAA and AMEX.

DeMure’s scheme to defraud involved at least seven separate loss incidents.  For example, in July 2016, DeMure moved from Fort Benning, Georgia, to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.  The U.S. Army paid for a company to pack and move DeMure’s residential household goods from Georgia to Alaska.  Those household goods were packed by the moving company on July 13, 2016.  On July 21, 2016, DeMure contacted USAA and claimed that a U-Haul trailer that he had rented had been burglarized in Louisville, Kentucky, where he stopped on the way to Indiana.  DeMure claimed the loss amount was $215,317.68.  The following day DeMure contacted the Louisville Metro Police Department to report the burglary.  In his USAA claim, DeMure identified numerous items as having been stolen from the U-Haul in Louisville, ranging from jewelry to performance bicycles.  The jewelry items included a Tiffany & Co. necklace that DeMure told USAA was a family heirloom, which had an appraised value of $35,000.  In fact, business records show that DeMure purchased the necklace on June 1, 2016, had it appraised on June 15, 2016, returned it on July 6, 2016, and on July 11, 2016, had it insured by USAA.  Altogether, DeMure received an overall payment benefit of $183,339.73 from the claims he filed with USAA and AMEX related to the purported July 20, 2016, U-Haul burglary.

The complaint further alleges that some of the supporting documents that DeMure submitted to USAA and AMEX were fraudulent.  For example, in support of an insurance claim, DeMure allegedly submitted a fake Palmer Police Department report to AMEX to evidence the loss incident in question.

If convicted, DeMure faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or both, for the most serious charges alleged in the complaint.  Under federal sentencing statutes, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conducted the investigation leading to the charges in this case, with assistance from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (commonly known as CID).  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea W. Hattan.

A complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt.  A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Source: Department of Jutice, U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Alaska


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