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CA Department of Insurance

Seven charged with more than 100 counts of auto insurance fraud

News: 2015 Press Release

For Release: June 24, 2015
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
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Seven charged with more than 100 counts of auto insurance fraud
Co-conspirators allegedly submitted more than 70 false claims

MARTINEZ, Calif. - Detectives from the California Department of Insurance, assisted by Snohomish County Marshall's Office and federal officers, arrested seven people in California and Washington yesterday for allegedly conspiring to defraud eight insurance companies by submitting fraudulent auto insurance claims totaling more than $175,000.

Ismael Chavez, 32, of Vallejo; Juan Carlos Chavez, 36, of Hayward; Jose Luis Ramos-Mercado, 37, of Martinez; Maria Ortiz, 29, of Oakland; Jose Guadalupe Ramos, 50, of Pittsburg, CA and two co-conspirators from Washington, Joel Palestino, 27, and Carmen Vazquez, 39, both of Everett, WA are all facing more than 100 criminal counts of felony insurance fraud.

According to detectives, the suspects were involved in an organized auto insurance fraud ring, submitting more than 70 fraudulent claims to multiple insurance companies for damage to vehicles that occurred prior to the vehicle being insured. The suspects allegedly used multiple aliases on the insurance claims to avoid detection by insurers. The investigation also revealed Mirage AutoCraft, owned by Jose Guadalupe Ramos, inspected the vehicles and was also involved in the conspiracy.

Contra Costa District Attorney Inspectors, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and the National Insurance Crime Bureau assisted with the investigation. If convicted on all counts, the suspects face from 5 to 35 years in state prison. Suspects arrested in Washington are being extradited to California for prosecution. The Contra Costa District Attorney's office is prosecuting this case.

Media Notes:

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 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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