Nine former employees of Aflac Inc. are claiming pervasive fraud and other misconduct at the Columbus, Georgia-based insurance company, including pushing them to use sales tactics akin to those of the Wells Fargo scandal, as well as "ruthlessly" retaliating against whistleblowers.

The draft of the class-action lawsuit, provided by the plaintiffs' attorney, Dimitry Joffe, alleges that Aflac:

  • Churns an army of sales associates every year, keeping the accounts that they had managed to open during their short tenure at the company for itself as house accounts.

  • Directs every aspect of what its sales associates do and how they do it – but misclassifies them as independent contractors rather than employees to avoid the need to pay payroll and unemployment insurance taxes on their behalf and to provide them with employment benefits.

  • Places an "incredible pressure" on its sales associates to meet unrealistic sales goals, which most of them cannot meet without resorting to improper or outright fraudulent underwriting techniques encouraged or condoned by Aflac, such as selling policies to customers without their knowledge, authorization or consent by forging their signatures; illicitly bundling standalone insurance policies; and falsifying applications in order to sell policies to unqualified customers.

  • Ruthlessly retaliates against its associates who blow the whistle on these fraudulent practices and report them up the ladder to the very top of its hierarchy.

  • Deceives its shareholders and regulators by manipulating its key operational metrics and by cannibalizing its own pre-existing accounts in order to report "new" policies and to create an illusion of growth.

One of the plaintiffs is Martin Conroy, who began working for Aflac in 2004, became a district sales coordinator for Aflac in 2007, was honored as a President's Club Member — the highest honor Aflac bestows — four times, and received numerous state and national awards and recognitions during his successful career at Aflac, according to the lawsuit.

At the end of 2015, after Conroy reported a fraud whereby Aflac's regional representatives had been knowingly issuing policies to the New York City employees not qualified for such policies in violation of the state insurance regulations, he was stripped of team members and accounts and ultimately forced out of Aflac, the lawsuit alleges.

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Katie Kuehner-Hebert

Katie Kuehner-Hebert is a freelance writer based in Running Springs, Calif. She has more than three decades of journalism experience, with particular expertise in employee benefits and other human resource topics.