For Consumers

Oak Harbor dad, stepmom plead not guilty to attempted life insurance fraud

Couple sought payout of $15,000 after son's cancer diagnosis

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June 24, 2019

OLYMPIA, Wash. – An Oak Harbor couple pleaded not guilty on June 17 in Island County Superior Court to charges that stemmed from a $15,000 life insurance policy they bought for their 12-year-old son who died of cancer.

Charles Henry Boyles III was charged with first-degree perjury, conspiracy to commit first-degree theft and conspiracy to file a fraudulent insurance claim. Genia Harris Boyles was charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree theft and conspiracy to file a fraudulent insurance claim. Officials brought charges after the case was investigated by Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s Criminal Investigations Unit (CIU).

A judge in Island County Superior Court set their trial for Sept. 10.

According to the investigation, Charles Boyles’ son was diagnosed with cancer in June 2016. Genia, the boy’s stepmother, and Charles took out a $15,000 Gerber life insurance policy on the boy the day they learned about the diagnosis. The life insurance application asked if the child had any medical conditions and both adults indicated that he did not. Later that day, Genia called Gerber and asked to remove Charles as a beneficiary to the policy, which Gerber did in August 2016.

Neither parent notified the boy’s biological mother of the policy. Gerber provided a transcript of a conversation in which Charles asks if the policy settlement could be garnished if a beneficiary owed back child support.

The boy died as a result of his illness in April 2017 and Genia filed a claim two days later. The policy had a clause that all deaths that occur within two years of the inception date would be reviewed. Charles and Genia repeatedly stated they had no knowledge of the boy’s illness when they secured the policy, saying the mother kept the boy’s diagnosis and condition from them. But Kreidler’s investigation found communications showing they were notified of his illness before they bought the policy.

Additionally, the community held fundraisers for the boy’s treatment that Charles and Genia attended.

Gerber eventually denied the claim and canceled the policy, refunding the $146 in premiums the Boyles had paid.

“There really is not a more egregious form of insurance fraud than schemes that prey on the vulnerable,” said Kreidler. “Attempting to illegally profit off a child’s death is truly reprehensible and only serves to hurt those who have experienced a devastating loss.”

Kreidler’s CIU investigates insurance fraud and works with the Washington State Patrol and state and local prosecutors on criminal cases. Insurance fraud costs the average family $400 to $700 per year in increased premiums. Insurance companies are required by law to report fraud to the commissioner and to cooperate with investigations. 

Consumers can report suspected insurance fraud on the insurance commissioner’s website.