A New Town man was ordered by Montana Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen to pay $168,000 in restitution and fines for selling fake surety bonds on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in north central Montana, according to a press release from the Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance office.

Documents filed by the commissioner’s office allege that Dennis Lyon received nearly $150,000 from the Gros Ventre and Assiniboine tribes in 2010 to provide surety bonds for the construction of an addition to Aaniiih Nakoda College, the release said.  

 Lucas Hamilton, communications director for the commissioner’s office, said Lyon has never been a licensed insurance agent or broker in the state of Montana and was selling the bonds through a corporation called Native American Fund Services Management, which Lyon claimed he owned.  Hamilton said the corporation neither was registered in Montana nor in Nevada where the address of the company that Lyon claimed he owned was based.

In 2007, Lyon was permanently barred from the insurance industry in Montana by a cease and desist order for selling bid bonds.

According to the release, the order was issued when Lyon went by his legal name, Robert Joe Hanson, and stemmed from bonds Lyon sold for construction projects in Bozeman, Malta and Ashland, Mont.

Hamilton said these cases are seen time to time and said this is the second or third bond case that his office has had in the last couple of years.

 “Certainly most insurance agents are licensed and doing business properly,” Hamilton said. “A lot of cases we may not know of because they’re not reported.”

Hamilton said the best way for people to protect themselves from similar scams is by contacting their local insurance commissioner’s office.

“No matter how professional or trustworthy an insurance or securities salesperson seems to be, you should check their history with my office,” Lindeen said in the release. “We can tell you if the salesperson is licensed and in good standing, preventing scams like this before they start.”