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CA Department of Insurance

San Diego man pleads guilty to setting car ablaze to cash in on insurance

News: 2015 Press Release

For Release: May 18, 2015
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Email Inquiries: cdipress@insurance.ca.gov
San Diego man pleads guilty to setting car ablaze to cash in on insurance

SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Richard Peters, 36, of Lakeside, pleaded guilty to one felony count of insurance fraud. He was arrested last week by the San Diego Urban Auto Insurance Fraud Task Force on suspicion that he set fire to his vehicle in order to defraud Progressive Insurance out of nearly $32,000.

In October 2013, just one month after he financed a Ford Fusion for $32,000, Peters reported his car stolen and it was found later that night by the San Diego Police Department burning in San Ysidro near the Mexico border.

Peters claimed to have an alibi during the time his car was stolen, telling investigators he was helping someone purchase a dune buggy. Evidence uncovered by detectives revealed Peters was not where he claimed to be on the night his car was stolen.

"This case serves as a reminder that fraud is a costly crime for insurers and consumers," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Insurance crimes are an expensive drain on the state's economy totaling billions of dollars annually, and those costs are passed along to consumers."

Peters was booked into San Diego Central Jail and will remain in custody until his sentencing court date on June 11 at the San Diego Superior Court. The San Diego District Attorney's Office is prosecuting this case.

Media Notes:

  • The Department of Insurance Urban Auto Insurance Fraud Task Force is charged with investigating organized auto insurance fraud rings. The multi-agency Task Force consists of California Department of Insurance investigators, the San Diego District Attorney's Office and the California Highway Patrol.


The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $310 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 $469 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance website at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.4357. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.

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