Major Detroit Auto Fraud Ring Busted

May 8, 2003

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, the Michigan State Police, National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), and Office of Financial and Insurance Services (OFIS) announced that a cooperative federal, state and local law enforcement effort has cracked a 16-member auto insurance fraud ring operating out of metro-Detroit.

An investigation conducted by the NICB uncovered the scheme in which individuals would reportedly buy vehicles at auto auctions for a few hundred dollars, “resell” the car to another member of the ring for a few thousand dollars, and then file multiple claims for damages suffered when the vehicles were allegedly involved in accidents – allowing the ring members to collect thousands of dollars on a car purchased for a few hundred dollars.

The total amount of fraud reportedly perpetrated by the group is approximately $1.47 million. A sweep by the MSP this week has led to the arrest of 10 of the suspects. MSP continues to search for the remaining six suspects.

All but one of the ring members face one count of racketeering, and each face at least one and up to five counts of insurance fraud. If convicted, maximum penalties range from four years and/or $50,000 up to 20 years and/or $350,000.

Those already arrested include:
1. Pamela Joyce Higdon (Detroit), insurance fraud (2), racketeering (1);
2. Keith Mitchell Higdon (Detroit), insurance fraud (2), racketeering (1);
3. Brian Coleman Barge (Detroit), insurance fraud (1);
4. Shawn Braswell (Detroit), insurance fraud (3), racketeering (1);
5. Cornell Travis Burns (Detroit), insurance fraud (5), racketeering (1);
6. Rawleigh Helen Cannon (Oak Park), insurance fraud (4),
racketeering (1);
7. Charity L. Irby (Inkster), insurance fraud (4), racketeering (1);
8. Rolin Pettway (Detroit), insurance fraud (5), racketeering (1);
9. James Arleavis Scott (Detroit), insurance fraud (4), racketeering (1);
10. Tommy R. Clark (Detroit), insurance fraud (4), criminal enterprise (1).

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