Nearly 200 arrested in statewide auto insurance fraud sweep
News: 2014 Press Release
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -Detectives from the Department of Insurance, assisted by local district attorneys and local law enforcement spent the last week serving arrest warrants in 22 counties where district attorneys have filed more than 200 felony counts and multiple misdemeanor charges against 195 people for alleged auto insurance fraud committed against 40 insurance companies.
"Unfortunately, this type of insurance crime is surprisingly common," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Insurance fraud is an expensive drain on the state's economy that totals into the billions of dollars annually in California. This is not a victimless crime. The cost of these scams is passed along to consumers through higher rates and premiums-everyone pays for insurance fraud."
In nearly all of the cases the drivers were uninsured or underinsured and allegedly purchased or added coverage after a collision or damage was sustained. Suspects then filed a fraudulent claim in an attempt to get the insurer to cover the damage to the uninsured vehicle. Two suspects are insurance professionals, including a claims adjuster, another case involved a pedestrian fatality, one included a vehicle allegedly used to transport drugs from Mexico, and one investigation uncovered a staged collision, which is under further investigation.
In some cases the fraud was uncovered before the insurer paid on the claim, in others it was discovered after the claims were paid. Detectives suspect that the actual and potential losses to insurers totaled more than $1 million.
"The lesson here is simple-don't drive without insurance," said Jones. "California's financial responsibility law requires drivers to be insured. It is simply not worth risking arrest and serving jail time. There are affordable options to help drivers meet the obligation to have insurance."
Local district attorneys, insurance company special investigation units and the National Insurance Crime Bureau assisted with the investigations. Local district attorneys are prosecuting these cases.
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- 162 cases were filed in the following counties with potential total losses of more than $1 million and actual losses of more than $75k. 195 people charged with 236 felonies and 43 misdemeanors.
- Alameda County - 20 cases filed; 22 defendants; 22 felony counts and 0 misdemeanors
- Amador - 1 case filed; 1 defendant; 2 felony charges and 0 misdemeanors
- Contra Costa County - 7 cases filed; 7 defendants; 7 felony charges; 0 misdemeanors
- El Dorado County - 2 cases filed; 3 defendants; 1 felony charge; 2 misdemeanors
- Fresno County - 8 cases filed; 9 defendants; 9 felony charges;0 misdemeanors
- Kern County - 2 cases filed; 3 defendants; 3 felony charges; 0 misdemeanors
- Kings County - 2 cases filed; 3 defendants; 3 felony charges;0 misdemeanors
- Los Angeles County - 23 cases filed; 27 suspects; 27 felony counts and 0 misdemeanors
- Orange County - 14 cases filed; 16 suspects; 16 felony counts and 21 misdemeanors
- Riverside - 5 cases filed; 6 defendants; 6 felony counts and 0 misdemeanors
- Sacramento - 8 cases filed; 10 defendants; 1 felony count and 11 misdemeanors
- San Bernardino - 7 cases filed; 11 defendants; 7 felony counts and 0 misdemeanors
- San Diego County - 30 cases filed; 35 suspects; 84 felony counts; and 0 misdemeanors
- San Joaquin County - 6 cases filed; 6 defendants; 6 felony counts; and 0 misdemeanors
- San Francisco - 2 cases filed; 2 defendants; 2 felony counts; and 0 misdemeanors
- San Luis Obispo County - 1 case filed; 1 felony count; and 0 misdemeanors
- Santa Barbara County - 3 cases filed; 5 defendants; 5 felony counts; and 0 misdemeanors
- Santa Clara County - 14 cases filed; 18 defendants; 26 felony charges; 0 misdemeanors
- Solano County - 1 case filed; 1 defendant; 1 felony charge; and 0 misdemeanors
- Sonoma County - 1 case filed; 1 defendant; 1 felony charge; and 0 misdemeanors
- Stanislaus County - case pending
- Tulare County - 3 cases filed; 4 defendants; 3 felony charges; 0 misdemeanors
- Ventura - 3 cases filed; 4 defendants; 4 felony charges; 0 misdemeanors
- Photos from the sweep are available on the department's Flickr site: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ca_dept_insurance/
Insurers with 10 or more cases:
- Nations Insurance
- Permanent General Assurance
- Financial Indemnity
Higher-end vehicles and types involved:
- GMC Denali
- Chrysler 300
Learn more about how to shop for insurance:
- Visit www.insurance.ca.gov for tips about shopping for automobile insurance or call our consumer hotline at
- Always check the license status of an agent or broker before purchasing insurance.
- Find out if you qualify for California's Low Cost Auto Insurance by calling 866-602-8861 or visit www.mylowcostauto.com.
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 $469 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.