Fraud News: Arson, Bogus Property Claim, Staged Crash Ring Busted

December 6, 2017
West Virginia Family Indicted in Insurance Fraud Scheme

A man, his ex-wife and two sons are accused of burning down two West Virginia homes and pocketing over $550,000 in insurance claims.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports 66-year-old Windel Lester, his ex-wife, 41-year-old Georgetta Lester, and his sons, 40-year-old Gregory A. Lester and 47-year-old James Edward Lester, were indicted on several charges, including money laundering.

The indictment alleges the Lesters and others devised a scheme to defraud an insurance company by buying vacant properties, insuring them and setting them on fire. They’re accused of submitting false insurance claims and collecting funds.

After allegedly receiving the insurance money, they’re accused of laundering it through at least two banks. Windel was on the board of directors of one of the banks.

It’s unclear if they have lawyers.

Iowa Man Accused of Fraud on Insurance Claim

Authorities have charged a northwest Iowa man with forgery and insurance fraud totaling nearly $29,000.

Court records say 39-year-old Scott Leininger is scheduled to be in court Dec. 4. He didn’t immediately return a call Wednesday at a number listed for him in Le Mars. The records don’t list the name of an attorney who could comment for him.

Authorities say Leininger submitted false paperwork to back his claim to Homesite Insurance for damage he said his disability equipment sustained during a lightning storm. Court documents say the company discovered that the paperwork was bogus and didn’t pay the claim.

Ex-Postal worker sentenced in compensation fraud case

A former U.S. Postal Service worker has been sentenced to 15 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $900,000 in restitution for fraudulently obtaining workers’ compensation benefits.

U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme in Great Falls announced Friday that 55-year-old Deborah Durand of Fruitland, Idaho, was convicted of four fraud counts. U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris presided over trial.

Prosecutors said Durand failed to return to work after recovering from an on-the-job back injury. Instead, she claimed total disability and received more than $660,000 in workers’ compensation claims.

They said Duran went on a three-day ocean kayaking trip and was seen jogging and riding horses while claiming she was “totally sedentary” and could not work.

California Brothers Arrested for Running Staged Auto Accident Ring

Brothers Angel Topete and Joshua Topete, both of San Martin, Calif., were arrested on numerous felony charges for allegedly running an organized auto insurance fraud scam involving more than 20 individuals and 18 staged collisions netting conspirators $210,000 in fraudulent auto insurance claims.

Silicon Valley Automobile Insurance Fraud Task Force investigators initially received information about the crime ring in 2015. The two-year investigation revealed the Topete brothers conspired with family, friends and associates who posed as insurance consumers and filed fraudulent claims with six different insurers for collisions that were either staged or never occurred at all.

Evidence revealed many of the claims involved salvaged vehicles,new insurance policies and variations of a name used on other similar claims. In some cases, suspects purchased insurance policies and then intentionally crashed cars into one or more vehicles owned by co-conspirators. All parties then filed fraudulent claims, which resulted in insurers paying the full value of the vehicles after it was declared a total loss.

To date, 18 of the 22 suspects have been arrested and booked.

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