Tuesday, 20 July 2021 22:35

17 More Defendants Arraigned in San Diego $822,000 Organized Auto Insurance Fraud Ring


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Seventeen additional defendants have been arraigned for their alleged involvement in an organized auto insurance fraud ring where dealers purchased damaged vehicles and then filed inflated claims and even staged thefts, costing insurers approximately $822,000.

Four people have already been sentenced in the multi-agency investigation dubbed Operation Dealer’s Choice, and 32 defendants have been charged or prosecuted in total.


The case was investigated by the San Diego County Organized Automobile Insurance Fraud Task Force, made up of the California Department of Insurance, San Diego District Attorney’s Office and California Highway Patrol.


Operation Dealer’s Choice began after the San Diego District Attorney’s Office received a consumer call claiming the ring was purchasing vehicles at local auto auctions and filing fraudulent total damage or theft claims to receive unearned payouts from insurance carriers.


"Through the hard work of our multi-agency task force, we are taking down this organized fraud ring and protecting consumers who should not have to pay the cost from false and inflated auto insurance claims," said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara.


The investigation determined the ring purchased vehicles at auction that were already damaged, had high mileage or both, at a significantly reduced cost. Once the vehicle was purchased, registered and insured by a carrier, the suspects filed a total damage or total theft claim and the ring shared the profits.


“Bilking companies into inflated payouts for insurance claims hurts consumers because ultimately the cost is passed onto them,” said San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan. “This investigation began with our office and demonstrates the power of the multi-agency task force to hold the individuals who were part of this fraud ring accountable.”


Investigators discovered 45 possible fraudulent auto insurance claims were filed over a four-year period, involving approximately 56 vehicles.


Numerous vehicles purchased by the suspects in this case had the vehicles’ odometer mileages “rolled back” in order to increase the value of the vehicle before it was damaged or reported stolen. Other vehicles had...

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