Stockton driver arraigned on 54 felony counts of insurance fraud and assault with a deadly weapon
News: 2023 Press Release
STOCKTON, Calif. — Eliu Canales, 43, was arraigned today on 54 felony counts of insurance fraud, assault with a deadly weapon and reckless driving after a joint investigation by the California Department of Insurance and San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office found he allegedly staged collisions with unsuspecting drivers in order to collect over $35,000 in payouts from insurance companies.
The joint investigation revealed that between 2017 and 2022 Canales, while working for AAA as a lead tow truck driver who taught defensive driving, orchestrated approximately 22 vehicle collisions with unsuspecting drivers. In order to cause these collisions, Canales would hide in the blind spots of other drivers and as those drivers attempted to change lanes, Canales would accelerate and sometimes turn into the other vehicles.
Following the collisions he would immediately file insurance claims against the other driver’s insurance company. Canales claimed over $86,000 in damage and was paid out over $35,000 from the insurance companies. He used audio and video recording devices to document the collisions, many of which were at the same locations, and then uploaded the recordings on his YouTube channel, Stockton Drivers, to highlight “bad drivers” in the area. Most of the videos have been removed from his YouTube channel.
If you suspect you or someone you know are the victim of a staged collision insist on a police report; document as much information about the collision as possible; use a cell phone to document the post-collision damage with photographs or video; ask the peace officer to positively identify everyone involved; and report the suspicious collision to the California Department of Insurance by calling 800-927-4357 or visit our website at insurance.ca.gov.
Canales was arrested on March 14, 2023 and was arraigned March 15, 2023. He appeared in court today for further arraignment and is scheduled to return to court on March 29, 2023. The San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting this case.
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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.