Scams Include Fake Flood Damage, Phantom Car Wrecks and Post-Dated Claims

March 25, 2019

A lawyer who faked flood damage, a bodyshop owner who reported accidents that never happened and motorists who filed claims for crashes that occurred before they bought auto insurance policies were among the people who were arrested or convicted for scamming property and casualty insurers.

Lawyers Behaving Badly

In New Jersey, Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey announced Friday that 63-year-old Neal Pomper of Highland Park was found guilty of one count of insurance fraud. Prosecutors say Pomper submitted a fake invoice from a home remodeling company when filing a $14,000 insurance claim for flood damage to his home and office. He faces a prison term of up to five years when sentenced in New Brunswick Superior Court.

Pomper was the second lawyer to face a Middlesex County judge for insurance fraud that week. Richard Zuvich of Metchen was sentenced on Friday to 10 years in prison for a combination of charges involving theft and insurance fraud.

Zuvich admitted that he negotiated a settlement for a house that burned down without bothering to tell the owner, his client, and stole the settlement money. In a separate case, he admitted that he pocketed the proceeds of a house sale, which belonged to a client.

Zuvich was ordered to pay $310,000 restitution to the victim in addition to serving two consecutive five-year prison terms.

One Way to Drum Up Business

Down in Texas, and Austin-area body shop owner was sentenced to 10 years of probation after Texas Department of Insurance investigators found he had reported wrecks that never took place and damaged vehicles to increase insurance payouts.

The scam lasted about five years, during which Elias Zapata changed the body shop’s name several times to avoid bad reviews, the department said.

Zapata pleaded guilty to a first-degree felony in February. He was sentenced March 13 to probation and ordered to repay more than $76,000.

Better Late than Never?

In North Carolina, Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey announced the arrest of two people who failed claims for auto wrecks that had happened before their insurance was in effect.

Madalena Carroll Nisi, 52, of Denver, was arrested last week for felony insurance fraud. Nisi’s vehicle was involved in a wreck last Nov. 30 at approximately 12:37 p.m. She called Geico only 13 minutes later to reinstate her lapsed coverage, investigators say. Then she filed a claim, saying the wreck occurred at 1 p.m. on that date, which happened to be 10 minutes after she reinstated her policy.

Nisi was ordered to appear in Lincoln County District Court on April 5.

Terrell Deon-Ellis Johnson of Charlotte is accused of a similar misdeed.

The Insurance Department’s Investigations Division says bought an auto insurance policy from National General Insurance Co. the afternoon of Dec. 12. The next day, he filed a claim seeking $10,498 for damages. Investigators say his vehicle had been in a wreck the evening before he purchased a policy.

Johnson, 41, was charged March 13 with felony attempting to obtain property by false pretense. He was ordered to appear in Mecklenburg County District Court on April 8.

Time and Again

Georgia insurance fraud investigators found themselves with three repeat customers last week. The Muscogee County District Attorneys Office on Tuessday charged 25-year old Devonta Waddy, 24-year-old Kamesha Lockett, and 26-year-old Rodney Locket, all of Columbus, on insurance fraud and theft by deception charges.

At the time they were arrested, the three were out on bond after being arrested in June 2017 for alleged staging auto accidents. Investigators say the latest arrest involves vehicle identification numbers, but the Insurance Department did not give specifics.

Authorities are seeking three more suspects for their role in the alleged insurance fraud scheme, the department said.

Why Face the Music?
Manolo Carrillo

Washington state fraud investigators are growing impatient with accused fraudster Manolo Carrillo. Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler put the 35d-year-old Pasco resident on the state’s insurance fraud most wanted list last week after he twice failed to appear on felony counts of filing a false insurance claim.

The state Attorney General’s Office filed charges against Carrillo after an investigation revealed that Carrillo had filed homeowner insurance claims with Allstate and American Family Insurance for burglaries that did not occur, the Insurance Department said. He filed a $40,000 claim with Allstate in June 2016 and a $14,000 claim with American Family in September 2016.

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