29 charged in bust of Southland organized family insurance fraud
News: 2015 Press Release
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Detectives from the Department of Insurance Fraud Enforcement Division arrested 15 Los Angeles area residents early this morning for allegedly staging auto collisions and filing more than half a million dollars in fraudulent claims. Four suspects are still being sought, and an additional 10 suspects are arranging to surrender.
Edwin Bautista, 41, of Sylmar and Luis Bautista, 32, of Pacoima, believed to be the ring leaders of an organized family insurance fraud crime ring were arrested this morning with 13 others were arrested at various southland locations and taken into custody without incident. All were booked into Los Angeles County Jail. The Bautista brothers, along with 27 accomplices, allegedly led a family crime ring filing 18 fraudulent auto insurance claims over a two-year period totaling more than half a million dollars.
According to investigators, the suspects intentionally crashed cars and then coached accomplices on how to fake injuries and file fraudulent insurance claims to get cash payments from insurers for bodily injuries and property damage.
"Insurance fraud is a multi-billion dollar criminal enterprise in California and Los Angeles is ground zero in our battle to combat these crimes," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Every consumer pays for fraud through higher insurance premiums, as insurers pass along the cost of the losses to policyholders."
Eleven insurance companies, including State Farm and Mercury, paid out more than $235,000 in claims before the fraud was uncovered. Once the scheme was discovered by department investigators, insurers avoided paying more than $250,000 in additional fraudulent claims submitted by the crime ring.
- Arrest photos and a complete list of insurers targeted are available on the CDI flickr page at (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ca_dept_insurance/sets/72157650111739317/)
- The Bautista ring allegedly filed 18 fraudulent claims between March of 2011 and August 2013.
- The LA and Riverside County DA's and the California Highway Patrol assisted with the arrests.
- Contact the LA County DA's office regarding arraignment and prosecution: (213) 974-3525.
- State Farm public affairs contact: Jordi Ortega 310-568-2963.
The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $289 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $394 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance web site at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.HELP or 213.897.8921. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.