News: 2009 Press Release
For Release: July 1, 2009
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Commissioner Poizner Announces Two Men Arrested in Connection with Auto Insurance Fraud Charges
Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner announced today the arrests of two individuals in connection with auto insurance fraud. Dong Suk Choi, 52, of Union City; and Timothy Zen Powell, 32, of Palo Alto, were arrested July 1 and charged with multiple counts of automobile insurance fraud. Bail for the men was set at $50,000 each.
"Insurance fraud costs everyone money when it's passed on to consumers in the form of higher rates," said Commissioner Poizner. "If you defraud an insurance company, the Department of Insurance will find you and help prosecute you."
A CDI Urban Auto Fraud Task Force investigation, in conjunction with an investigation by Farmers Insurance, revealed that this alleged fraud had taken place. Farmers Insurance conducted reinspections of repaired vehicles from two Choice Auto Body locations in Newark and Santa Clara. Both shops were owned by Choi, and Powell worked as auto body manager at the Santa Clara location. Of 28 reinspections, Farmers discovered that the shop had allegedly over-billed Farmers for repair costs on 20 vehicles. Choi and Powell allegedly repaired old parts when billing Farmers for a brand new part, or used inferior parts in some circumstances. The alleged fraud is estimated to have cost Farmers approximately $15,000.
The Santa Clara District Attorney's Office is prosecuting this case.
The California Department of Insurance Urban Auto Fraud Task Force is comprised of investigators from the California Department of Insurance, CHP and the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.
Commissioner Poizner oversees sixteen CDI Enforcement Branch regional offices throughout the state. Close to 1900 insurance fraud-related arrests have been made by the Department of Insurance's Enforcement Branch since Commissioner Poizner took office in 2007 - more arrests than have been made during any other two year period, under any previous insurance commissioner.
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