N.C. Agents Detour Auto Fraud Ring Responsible for 480 Crashes, $2 M in False Claims

April 12, 2005

Six Chatham and Randolph County, N.C. residents suspected of masterminding an extensive auto insurance fraud ring which staged an estimated 480 auto crashes and defrauded more than $2 million have been arrested as the result of an investigation launched by Commissioner Jim Long and the North Carolina Department of Insurance.

More than 100 officers participated in a Tuesday morning raid, including investigators at the Department of Insurance working with the Siler City Police Department, the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office, the United States Postal Inspector Service and the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

The arrests came after authorities launched the raid of the suspects’ residences after a grand jury returned 45 indictments Monday in Siler City. Also involved in the raid were the Asheboro Police Department, the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office and the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators suspect the ring was responsible for an estimated 480 auto crash claims 1992, deliberately caused so the defendants could collect insurance payments. Some of the suspects had prior records and/or outstanding warrants for other charges; more than 100 law enforcement officers participated in the raid due to the dangerous nature of the operation.

Those arrested include: Frankie Alston of 131 Ellington Rd., Siler City; Gloria Alston of 1418 Spring Ave., Siler City; Ellen Burns of 4538 Walker Mill Rd., Sophia; Reynaldo Dimas Colores of 401 N. Dogwood Ave., Apt. A , Siler City; Dorothy Maria Depaz of 1809 N. Chatham Ave., Siler City; and Jose Anton Depaz of 1110 Hal Clark Rd., Siler City.

Charges included obtaining property by false pretenses, habitual felon and conspiracy to obtain property by false pretenses. The defendants were booked at the Siler City Police Department and are being held at the Chatham County jail. More charges may be brought later.

Investigators allege the fraud ring may have been part of a larger illegal drug operation. These arrests are only the first in what is expected to be an ongoing investigation.

“This is one of the largest suspected fraud ring cases we’ve worked in a long time,” Commissioner Long said. “Thanks to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, which alerted our officers to some suspicious trends coming out of Chatham and Randolph Counties, we are now able to investigate this case fully and potentially take these individuals to trial.”

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