Case Update: Friends’ fast and furious fraud scheme ends in felony charges
News: 2017 Press Release
CASE UPDATE:Further investigation determined Petros and Hatton were friends and had known each other for several years. Petros bought and sold a 1955 Porsche 356 Speedster years prior that had the same VIN as the Porsche Hatton allegedly owned and used in the insurance claim. Through investigation conducted by investigators, they confirmed the actual VIN of the 1955 Porsche they used, did exist, and the Porsche with the valid VIN is currently located in another country. Constantine Petros has been convicted of one felony count PC 550 (b)(1), insurance fraud, and sentenced to 150 days in jail and 5 years' formal probation. Christopher Hatton has been convicted of one felony count PC 182, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, and sentenced to 75 hours of community service, 5 years' formal probation and to attend an ethics course. Restitution in the amount of $5,000 is to be paid jointly by Petros and Hatton.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Constantine Petros, 54, of Petaluma was arrested on October 19, 2016, in Sonoma County and Christopher Hatton, 60, of Tahoma, surrendered himself to Placer County Superior Court on November 14, 2016. Both were charged with multiple felony counts of insurance fraud and conspiracy for filing a false insurance claim for the alleged theft of a classic 1955 Porsche 356 Speedster.
After receiving a suspicious claim referral from Farmers Insurance, the Department of Insurance Fraud Division launched an investigation into circumstances surrounding Hatton's claim that his $250,000 collectable 1955 Porsche 356 Speedster was stolen in Nevada while he attended the area's annual rib cook-off.
"Petros and Hatton allegedly went to great lengths to weave an elaborate scheme in an attempt to defraud Farmers Insurance out of $250,000," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Solid investigative work by department detectives stopped them in their criminal tracks."
The investigation revealed a connection between Petros and Hatton and an alleged conspiracy to file a false insurance claim for a stolen collectable Porsche that Hatton never owned and was not stolen.
The alleged scheme began with Petros and Hatton creating a fraudulent paper trail showing Hatton purchased a 1955 Porsche 356 Speedster. Petros then provided a different Porsche so Hatton could secure an appraisal documenting the value of the collectable car. The investigation revealed the vehicle identification number or VIN was altered on the Porsche to make it appear as a different 1955 Porsche 356 Speedster. Using the Porsche with the altered VIN, Hatton was able to secure a vehicle appraisal value of $250,000. Hatton then used the appraisal to obtain an insurance policy for the collectable Porsche. On September 4, 2016, Hatton reported the Porsche 356 Speedster stolen to police and Farmers Insurance.
If convicted on all counts, Petros and Hatton could face more than five years in prison. The case is being prosecuted by the California Attorney General's Office. If anyone has information on this crime or other crimes related to Petros, or has information regarding the missing Porsche (see picture below) please contact CDI fraud detectives at (916) 854-5842.
- Petros' arraignment is scheduled for November 23, 2016 in Placer County.
- Hatton has been release on his own recognizance and will return to court on November 21, 2016 to address bail.
- Arrest photo of Constantine Petros and 1955 Porsche 356 Speedster can be found on our Flickr site: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ca_dept_insurance/albums/72157674089117662
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 www.insurance.ca.gov. 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.