Consumer Alert                                                         Contact:Lucas Hamilton


      HELENA, Mont., February 15, 2005 - Montana State Auditor John Morrison issued a Cease and Desist Order against Shonto Surety, Inc. and Robert Joe Hanson for participating in a scam that used insurance certificates and fake contractor bonds to win bids of public works projects. Hanson, 47, of Las Vegas Nevada uses the company names of Shonto Surety and Individual Surety, LTD and is not licensed in the State of Montana. Several small contracting companies in Montana have already been victimized by this scam. Cease and Desist orders have also been issued in Washington, Nevada, Florida and Georgia against Hanson and Individual Surety, LTD. Hanson was recently arrested on a warrant for insurance violations in California. Those proceedings are pending.
      "Criminals will go to great lengths to commit fraud," said State Auditor John Morrison. "I will continue to fight these illegal insurers to protect Montana's small businesses."
      Hanson is accused of acting as an unlicensed insurance producer and selling fraudulent surety insurance, bid and performance bonds to small contractors in Montana. The majority of solicitations were made in the Butte and Kalispell areas for construction projects at three locations in the State of Montana. Hanson illegally sold surety bonds for construction bids, which totaled over $4 million in bond value in Montana.
      "The best way to fix this situation is to make it a felony to sell illegal insurance plans in Montana," said Morrison. "As Montana State Auditor, I have been working with legislative leaders to try to pass such legislation this session. We recently introduced SB 114 which would give my office the tools we need to prosecute these types of criminals."
      Investigators believe there are more Montana victims. Robert Joe Hanson's last known address was 2867 Destino Lane, Henderson, Nevada and Individual Surety, LTD was last listed at 6402 McLeod Dr. #5, Las Vegas, Nevada. He has previously done business as Millennium Bonding, Global Bonding and Individual Surety. Prior to setting up Shonto Surety, Hanson operated a business called I.S., a Native American Corporation.
      If you have been contacted, or have information concerning any of these entities, please contact the Investigations Unit at the State Auditor's Office at 1-800-332-6148 or 406-444-2040.