Repairer Driven News
« Back « PREV Article  |  NEXT Article »

California task force uncovers insurance fraud ring, 23 charged

By on
Share This:

The California Department of Insurance (DOI) reports that nine people have been arrested and 23 charged in connection with a “family and friend” auto insurance fraud ring.

The felony counts also include conspiracy. The DOI says the alleged ring leader, Gerson Castro Martinez, 34, of San Jose, was charged with eight felony counts. Castro allegedly involved family and friends in a fraud scheme that netted defendants more than $174,000.

The arrests were made in July and August. In addition, one individual was cited and released, and four self-surrendered, according to the DOI.

An investigation by the Urban Automobile Insurance Fraud Task Force uncovered 33 claims that contained a similar way of filing repeat damage claims, purchasing insurance policies with either fictitious identities or involved parties that knew each other but reported claims as strangers and had been involved in a loss.

The ring used at least 40 different vehicles — some purchased with damages on them, and some damaged in staged collisions. The scheme allegedly went on for four years.

“This alleged auto insurance fraud ring is a prime example of the type of fraud that increases premium prices for all California drivers,” said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. “The hard work of our multi-agency task force stopped this organized insurance crime ring thaft operated for years stealing more than $174,000 in fraudulent auto claims.”

According to DOI detectives, Rene Murillo Hernandez, 43, of Santa Clara, led them to their findings when he allegedly hit a parked vehicle after his vehicle was struck by an unknown driver.

Murillo left a note with his insurance information on the parked vehicle he struck and when the owner of the parked vehicle, another alleged member of the fraud ring, turned in a claim to the insurance company the investigation revealed the damages were inconsistent with the two vehicles colliding with each other, detectives said.

Further investigation revealed that the damages allegedly sustained in this incident were previously reported in a prior loss under different ownership and that the P.O. box address that was being used was listed in several other similar claims by other individuals that all claimed that’s where their vehicles were housed, the DOI said.

The collective case is being prosecuted by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.

To report suspected insurance fraud to the California DOI, members of the general public and licensed state agents and brokers can do so on the DOI’s website here.


Featured image: Olivier Le Moal/iStock

More information

Allstate agrees to $90M settlement with shareholders over fraud allegations

Over 400 salvage vehicle charges filed against NC dealership, customers not informed of damages

Share This: