N.J. Trio Parked in Auto Fraud Scam

May 17, 2005

New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice Director Vaughn McKoy announced that the Division of Criminal Justice – Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor has obtained an indictment charging three Union County residents with insurance fraud for their roles in an alleged automobile insurance Personal Injury Protection (PIP) fraud scam.

According to Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Greta Gooden-Brown, Ayana D. Torres, 29, Elizabeth, Union County; Geraldo Torres, 28, Elizabeth; and Ayana Torres’ brother, Jose Rivera, 30, Elizabeth, were charged by the Division of Criminal Justice – Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor with conspiracy to commit Health Care Claims Fraud and Health Care Claims Fraud (both 2nd degree), and theft by deception (3rd degree).

If convicted of all charges, each defendant faces up to 25 years and a fine of up to $315,000. In addition, defendants face the possibility of the imposition of civil insurance fraud fines pursuant to the Insurance Fraud Prevention Act.

The Union County Grand Jury indictment alleges that between March and November 2000, Ayana Torres, Geraldo Torres and Rivera conspired to submit false PIP claims to State Farm Insurance.

It is charged that on March 10, 2000, Ayana Torres went to Highway Service Garage, Trumbull Street, Elizabeth to pick up her car. The car had been towed by the police because it did not have a valid inspection sticker and Rivera, who was driving the vehicle at the time, did not have a valid driver’s license. According to the indictment, when Ayana Torres started the vehicle it lurched forward and struck another vehicle.

An investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice determined that, despite the fact that Geraldo Torres and Jose Rivera were not in the vehicle at the time it lurched forward, PIP claims worth more than $1,200 were submitted to State Farm Insurance Company on their behalf.

State Farm denied the claim and referred the matter to the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor for investigation.

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