North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Jim Long announced the arrest of five suspects believed to be part of an extensive auto insurance fraud ring operating in Forsyth and Guilford Counties. Criminal investigators from the Department of Insurance (DOI), accompanied by officers from the Winston Salem Police Department, Forsyth County Sheriff’s Department and High Point Police Department, participated in the arrest.
“These arrests are just the beginning of our crackdown on what’s believed to be a major auto insurance scam that has cost several insurance companies thousands of dollars,” Commissioner Long said. “Fraudulent schemes such as this one cost insurance companies billions every year, and that means decent, law abiding citizens pay the price through increased premiums. This is a practice the DOI simply won’t accept.”
The suspects include Tanya Lavette Mason, Renee Carethers Rousseau and Julius White Cornell Jr., all of Winston Salem; Claudia Rendon Richardson of Yadkinville; and Darryl Campbell of High Point. All were arrested and charged with false pretense (a form of insurance fraud) and felony conspiracy by reporting claims and receiving claims checks from GMAC, Nationwide, Allstate, State Farm and Commercial Casualty Insurance Companies. All five were arrested and processed through the Forsyth County Jail.
A sixth suspect considered to be a key party to the fraud ring, David G.K. Richardson of Yadkinville, allegedly fled to Mexico. Additional arrests are planned.
Investigators with the DOI allege that this fraud ring consisted of key people buying already damaged vehicles and insuring them as if they had no damage. The perpetrators then made false claims of property damage and personal injury without reporting the claims to the nearest law enforcement agency, as required by law. The vehicles were later passed along to other suspects in the ring who purchased insurance policies from additional companies, repeating the fraud.
A tip from a National Insurance Crime Bureau special agent who identified the ring led to an investigation by the DOI, which employs 23 sworn law enforcement officers dedicated to preventing and prosecuting insurance fraud.
“We have the officers to investigate fraud, and we have the resources to lock up the perpetrators – but we depend on tips from community members and others who are often on the front lines of fraudulent activity,” Long said. “If you suspect insurance fraud in your community or workplace, report it to the Department’s Investigations Division at (919) 733-7434.”
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