Fraud News: Staged Car Crash Scam and High Tech Auto Theft Ring Busted

June 5, 2017
13 Arrests in Louisiana Fake Crash Scheme

Louisiana State Police say 13 people have been arrested in connection with an insurance fraud scheme involving staged automobile crashes.

A news release says Thursday’s arrests followed an investigation that began with complaints from insurance companies.

Investigators say the scheme involved a group of people who regularly participated in reporting fictitious automobile crashes, bogus injuries and property damage in southwestern Louisiana.

At least seven phony crashes were involved. State police estimate the group defrauded insurance companies out of more than $30,000.

Those arrested were jailed in the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center. State police said three more suspects were at large.

West Virginia Men Admit False Claims in Staged Crashes

Federal authorities say two West Virginia men have admitted their roles in filing false insurance claims for motor vehicle accidents.

They were among eight people indicted in March over staged accidents from 2012 to 2014 in three counties.

According to prosecutors, 55-year-old Dallas Lewis, of Clarksburg, pleaded guilty to mail fraud conspiracy and 34-year-old Charles Bonner, of Morgantown, pleaded guilty to mail fraud.

Authorities say Bonner took part in a staged accident in January 2012 in Harrison County, faking injuries and filing a false insurance claim that paid approximately $101,500 to him and others.

He also admitted a role in getting an insurance settlement check sent to someone else for $46,500.

The indictment alleged that Lewis coordinated the crashes and recruited the others.

West Virginia Woman Admits Role in Staged Accident, Insurance Claim

Federal authorities say that a 56-year-old Fairmont woman has pleaded guilty to fraud, admitting she participated in a staged vehicle accident, faked injuries and filed a false insurance claim.

Prosecutors say Robin Stoneking’s false insurance claim in 2013 in Marion County resulted in a $41,000 settlement.

She could face up to 20 years in prison at sentencing.

The West Virginia Insurance Commission Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated.

Hooligans Motorcycle Gang Indicted for High-Tech Auto Theft

Authorities in San Diego, Calif., have indicted nine members of a motorcycle gang known as the Hooligans, alleging they stole more than 150 Jeep Wranglers in a high-tech auto-theft ring.

The U.S. attorney’s office says Tuesday that the Tijuana, Mexico-based club used handheld electronic devices and stolen codes to make copies of keys and disable alarms on the vehicles in California while their owners slept. They would take the Jeeps back to Mexico and sell them or strip them for parts.

Authorities allege the ring has stolen more $4.5 million in Wranglers since the scheme began in 2014.

Three Hooligans have been arrested so far. Six more are fugitives.

The thefts were perplexing to investigators because no glass was broken or alarms triggered. Surveillance camera video from one of the victims tipped them off to the techniques being used.

Louisiana woman gets 366 days for insurance fraud

A 54-year-old Louisiana woman has been sentenced to a year and a day in prison for insurance fraud, and must pay $9,100 restitution.

Acting U.S. Attorney Alexander Van Hook said in a news release Friday that Lasandra Laverne Edwards of Monroe was sentenced Thursday on one count of mail fraud.

Her guilty plea says she valued her belongings at $1,000 when filing for bankruptcy in October 2013, but bought a $100,000 renters’ insurance policy a month later.

After her house caught fire that December, she claimed that it destroyed $116,000 worth of property.

The news release says the house caught fire Dec. 1, 2013, and Edwards reaffirmed the $1,000 value for her furniture and clothes at a bankruptcy hearing Dec. 10, 2013 – one day before filing the insurance claim.

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