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CA Department of Insurance

Organized crime ring busted for auto collision fraud

News: 2016 Press Release

For Release: April 13, 2016
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
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Organized crime ring busted for auto collision fraud
Nine charged for submitting fraudulent claims for crashes that never occurred

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Juan Ortiz Velazquez, 27, of San Jose and owner of Carlos Auto Body, was arrested with seven other suspects and charged with multiple counts of felony insurance fraud for allegedly filing 20 fraudulent claims to four insurance companies for crashes that never occurred—leading to more than $140,000 in losses. The ninth suspect remains at large and is being sought.

"California is ground zero for staged auto collisions," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Organized crime rings are responsible for the majority of staged collisions, which are costly to insurers and consumers. The multi-agency Urban Grant Task Force is one of our most effective weapons in eradicating these crimes."

After receiving an anonymous tip and a suspected fraud referral from a victim insurer in 2012, the Department of Insurance launched an investigation. Evidence revealed the alleged crimes, which led to today's arrests and the discovery that a second body shop, Filo's Auto Body, owned by Filomeno Arreguin Lucatero, was also involved in the fraud scheme.

Detectives uncovered evidence that Velazquez paid his co-conspirators $500 each to allow him to damage their vehicles, submit claims to the insurance company, and collect payment from the insurers. Detectives also found evidence that Velazquez and Lucatero did not complete some work as it was ordered on damage estimates.

This case is being prosecuted by the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.

Suspects in Custody – Eight of the nine suspects charged are in custody

  • Jose Caro Curiel, 46, Santa Clara, CA
  • Melissa Duarte, 27, Hollister, CA
  • Filomeno Arreguin Lucatero, 45, Milpitas, CA
  • Angel Resendiz, 39, Gilroy, CA
  • Manuel Resendiz, 40, Los Banos, CA
  • Deisy Ramirez Robles, 27, San Jose, CA
  • Lorenzo Robles Ramirez, 25, San Jose, CA
  • Juan Ortiz Valezquez, 27, San Jose, CA

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Media Notes:

  • Suspects were booked into the Santa Clara Main Jail.
  • Claims for collisions that did not occur are referred to as paper claims.
  • When a body shop does not do the work ordered on a damage estimate, it is referred to as a deviated repair.
  • Victim insurance companies include, Farmers, Progressive, Permanent General Assurance Corporation and Nations General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC).
  • The Urban Grant Task Force is a multi-agency team funded to investigate and prosecute auto fraud and includes the Department of Insurance, District Attorneys, California Highway Patrol and local law enforcement agencies.

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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