Sunday, 30 September 2007 10:00

Fugitive Arrested In $500,000 Scam

Moshe “Sanny” Assoulin, 35, an Israeli who grew up in the San Fernando Valley, was arrested in Israel in August by Israeli National Police for insurance fraud, grand theft, identity theft and federal charges.

“Insurance fraud results in higher premiums for all California consumers,” said Commissioner Steve Poizner. “My department is committed to halting fraud perpetrators, and will continue to crack down on scam artists.”

A warrant for Assoulin’s arrest was issued in October 2005, following the results of an investigation by the California Department of Insurance (CDI). The investigation revealed multiple fraudulent automobile insurance claims were allegedly submitted to car rental and insurance companies by Assoulin and co-conspirators. Nine defendants have pleaded guilty to various insurance fraud related charges in connection with this case. In May 2005, Assoulin was awaiting sentencing for federal charges when he became aware of CDI’s insurance fraud investigation. At that point, Assoulin fled to Israel.

From 2000 to early 2002, according to CDI Fraud Division, Assoulin participated in a scam in which fraudulent insurance claims were submitted to car rental and insurance companies. Under the alleged scheme, a person would rent a vehicle from a car rental company and return it a day or two later with slight damage. The renter would report that he or she had accidentally struck a parked unoccupied vehicle. Another person would then contact the car rental company as the owner of the parked unoccupied vehicle, and submit a claim for property damages. The same vehicles with the same damages were used repeatedly in multiple claims.

One of the vehicles, a 1997 Mercedes Benz SL600, was used in ten claims, and various insurance companies paid more than $100,000 in settlements for alleged damages to the vehicle. The potential loss to the various car rental and insurance companies is estimated at nearly $500,000. The National Insurance Crime Bureau, as well as multiple car rental and insurance companies, assisted in the investigation.

The CDI Fraud Division and the Drug Enforcement Administration jointly submitted to Israel a request for the arrest and extradition of Assoulin through the US Department of Justice Office of International Affairs. The request was reviewed by the Israeli Ministry of Justice, and an Israeli arrest warrant was issued. On August 19, 2007, Israeli National Police located and arrested Assoulin. The Los Angeles County District Attorney is prosecuting this case.