N.J. Man Pleads Guilty to Masterminding $600,000 Auto Fraud Theft

April 29, 2003

New Jersey’s Acting Attorney General Peter Harvey announced that the architect of a large scale, multiple defendant conspiracy to defraud two insurance companies out of more than $600,000 pled guilty Monday in Middlesex County Superior Court to charges of conspiracy and theft by deception.

According to Vaughn McKoy, Acting Director, Division of Criminal Justice and Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Greta Gooden Brown, Carl Prata, 41, of Essex County, pled guilty before Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Frederick DeVesa to one count each of conspiracy and theft by deception (2nd degree).

A crime of the second degree carries a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in state prison and a maximum fine of up to $150,000. Prata may also face civil insurance fraud fines pursuant to the civil Insurance Fraud Prevention Act. Prata is scheduled to appear before Judge DeVesa on Aug. 29 for sentencing.

Prata, a former employee with the Allmerica Insurance Company and the St. Paul Insurance Company, was charged by the Division of Criminal Justice – Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor in a State Grand Jury indictment returned on Dec. 18, 2002.

At the guilty plea hearing, Prata reportedly admitted that he concocted a scheme to access and manipulate insurance company computer systems by programming fictitious and fraudulent information into the data base.

The Division of Criminal Justice – Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor’s investigation determined that over a three-year period from Jan. 1, 1998 to Nov. 28, 2000, Prata reportedly created fraudulent computer files listing approximately 45 individuals as having been involved in automobile accidents. As a result, the insurance company’s computer systems processed and issued more than 50 fraudulent auto insurance claim checks to the approximately 45 persons resulting in an attempted theft in excess of $600,000.

“Prata, as the ring leader of a significant automobile insurance fraud conspiracy involving at least 45 individuals, submitted phony insurance claims totaling more than $600,000. The two insurance companies, their policy holders and all New Jerseyans are the victims of these type of illegitimate insurance fraud schemes. The Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor will continue this investigation and each and every participant will be identified, arrested and prosecuted,” said Brown.

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