Contra Costa undercover sting brings felony insurance fraud charges in auto body repair shops bust
News: 2020 Press Release
CONTRA COSTA, Calif. — To crack down on automobile insurance fraud, the California Department of Insurance, Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office and the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) conducted an undercover sting operation targeting auto body repair facilities across Contra Costa County. The operation resulted in eight felony counts of insurance fraud against four individuals, Estephanie Gonzalez-Marquez, 26, of Pittsburg, Marco Antonio Hernandez Santizo, 49, of San Pablo, Kyle Alan Coburn, 30, of Elk Grove, and Vu Phong Hoang, 33, of Clayton.
One sting operation uncovered repair shop employees allegedly providing undercover officers with written bogus documentation to give their insurance company to support fraudulent insurance claims. In another sting, body shop personnel coached the undercover officer on telling a phony story to the insurance company, including allegedly telling the undercover officer to lie about when and how the vehicle damage occurred.
“These suspects brazenly worked to rip off insurance companies by making bogus insurance claims,” said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. “We are tackling the issue of insurance fraud head on, and are taking proactive steps to educate the public and provide a deterrent message to those knowingly breaking the law. Insurance fraud is not a victimless crime. We all pay for the cost of fraud through higher premiums. Working with our partners at the District Attorney’s Office and the NICB will help fight this multimillion dollar problem and bring fraudsters to justice.”
Auto insurance fraud is one of the most common types of fraud in California, with estimates in the tens of millions of dollars annually.
Hernandez and Gonzalez-Marquez were indicted by a Grand Jury in December 2019. Both individuals recently appearance in court for the first time. Coburn and Hoang were arrested by Department of Insurance detectives earlier today. The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the cases.
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Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office contact:
Scott Alonso 925-957-8638 office, 925-536-8110 cell
Led by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, the California Department of Insurance is the consumer protection agency for the nation's largest insurance marketplace and safeguards all of the state’s consumers by fairly regulating the insurance industry. Under the Commissioner’s direction, the Department uses its authority to protect Californians from insurance rates that are excessive, inadequate, or unfairly discriminatory, oversee insurer solvency to pay claims, set standards for agents and broker licensing, perform market conduct reviews of insurance companies, resolve consumer complaints, and investigate and prosecute insurance fraud. Consumers are urged to call 1-800-927-4357 with any questions or contact us at www.insurance.ca.gov via webform or online chat. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800-927-4357. Teletypewriter (TTY), please dial 800-482-4833.