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CA Department of Insurance

Organized crime insurance fraud ring busted by California Department of Insurance investigators

News: 2013 Press Release

For Release: August 15, 2013
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
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Organized crime insurance fraud ring busted by California Department of Insurance investigators
Six cohorts scam over $400,000

RICHMOND, Calif - A joint investigation with the Contra Costa District Attorney's office led Department of Insurance investigators to the arrest of five individuals for allegedly running an insurance fraud ring throughout northern California and northern Nevada. The insurers' losses are estimated between $400,000 and $600,000.

In August 2011, the California Department of Insurance opened an investigation into a suspected organized insurance fraud ring, led by Louis Houston, 49, of Richmond, who remains at large.

Investigators allege Houston submitted at least 65 insurance loss claims; including property losses from 10 separate fires, 20 incidents of theft or vandalism, eight automobile accidents, and six incidents of water damage.

"The egregious crimes allegedly committed by Houston and his partners contribute to higher costs for insurers and increased premiums for consumers," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Our successful investigative partnership with the Contra Costa district attorney's office was essential to putting this ring out of business and bringing them to justice."

After a year-long investigation, Department of Insurance investigators, in conjunction with the Contra Costa District Attorney's office, found that numerous items previously reported stolen or destroyed were actually in Houston's possession. A further search revealed evidence that Houston and his cohorts submitted fraudulent claims for personal injury, wage loss, and vehicle thefts. The suspects filed police reports and submitted documents to more than13 insurance companies to support their fraudulent claims.

The suspects in custody were indicted on August 1, 2013 on 435 charges including insurance fraud, conspiracy, perjury and arson.

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Media Notes:

The suspects include:

  • Louis Houston, Richmond CA, 49 years old- at large
  • Sadi Zeigler, Vallejo CA, 24 years old - in custody
  • Crystal Robinson, Reno NV, 25 years old- in custody
  • Cedric Jackson, Fresno CA, 29 years old- in custody
  • Jones Smith, Richmond CA, 32 years old- in custody
  • Kimberly Burdeen-Tanner, Pittsburg CA, 28 years old- in custody

This case was investigated by California Department of Insurance and the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office with the assistance from investigators from California Highway Patrol, National Insurance Crime Bureau, Richmond Police Department, and Fresno Police Department.

Investigators have received assistance from the following insurance carriers: GEICO, Allstate, Balboa, Homesite, Farmers, 21st Century, Travelers, RepWest, Nationwide, AAA, Assurant, Met Life and Safeco; as well as the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

Photos available

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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