Investigators Say Auto Insurance Fraud Ring Involved Towing, Ransom Schemes

A complex auto insurance fraud ring led to an array of charges including insurance fraud, grand theft by trick, and false impersonation, investigators say.

A dozen Southern California residents are reported to have conspired to create fraudulent insurance claims to illegally collect more than $350,000.

They were arrested last week after an investigation reportedly discovered a large-scale organized auto insurance fraud ring engaged in multiple schemes, including holding vehicles hostage and collusive collisions.

Three additional people were charged for their alleged involvement in the organized ring. The charges involve 19 fraudulent claims resulting in a loss of $353,035.

The Inland Empire Automobile Insurance Task Force began an investigation in 2022 after reportedly discovering a California Highway Patrol non-sworn employee, Rosa Isela Santistevan, 55, of Irvine, was unlawfully selling traffic collision report face pages with personal information of people who had been involved in collisions throughout the region.

Searches reportedly led to the seizure of more than 3,500 CHP traffic collision report face pages from the residence of Esmeralda Parga, 26, of Pomona, who the task force determined was connected to Santistevan through the organized ring’s ringleader, Andre Angelo Reyes, 36, of Corona.

The alleged conspiracy began after Reyes befriended Santistevan and other CHP employees by donating to various CHP events and parties. Santistevan printed and unlawfully sold thousands of traffic collision face pages to Reyes, who reportedly would then provide the reports to Parga. Parga would then pretend to be from the insurance company of involved parties and coordinate having the vehicle towed to a repair center, according to investigators.

Tow trucks were then sent to pick up the vehicles and take them to CA Collision, owned by Anthony Gomez, 35, of Jurupa Valley. Once at there, the repair shop held the vehicle hostage and demand cash payment from the insurers to have the vehicles released.

This investigation resulted in 15 suspects being charged with insurance fraud, grand theft by trick, and false impersonation.

The investigating task force included the California Department of Insurance, California Highway Patrol, San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office, and the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office. The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the case.

Defendants include: