L.A. Attorney Charged with 28 Felony Counts in Auto Fraud Ring

April 1, 2010

A Los Angeles attorney has surrendered following automobile insurance fraud charges in California’s Alameda County, the state Department of Insurance announced. Susana Ragos Chung, 59, was charged with 28 felony offenses following an investigation known as “Phantom Menace,” which was conducted jointly by the Bay Area Auto Fraud Taskforce. The task force is comprised of members from the Department of Insurance, Alameda County District Attorney’s Office and the California Highway Patrol.

It is alleged that Chung acted as the conduit of fraudulent insurance claims associated with a large number of staged accidents in Northern California, according to the DOI. The fraud ring included a “capper” who orchestrated the fake accidents by recruiting drivers and passengers willing to say they were in the “accidents,” the auto body shop willing to falsify repair records and the medical providers willing to falsify medical records. The capper, Norberto “Chito” Mora, is currently serving an eight-year prison sentence for his role in the fraud ring.

Once the recruitment and information gathering was complete, Chung allegedly submitted the fraudulent insurance claims to multiple companies. Investigators determined that Chung allegedly paid Mora for the cases and then submitted claims on behalf of clients, the DOI said.

Most of the purported “accidents” were not documented in police reports. Investigators determined that some collisions were staged, while other vehicles had claims filed after no collision had taken place at all. Many of the “accidents” were said to have occurred at the same locations, and were said to have involved multiple passengers. Most of the “accidents” led to all participants going to the same chiropractor, not their regular doctor, far away from their homes. There were only a handful of chiropractors repeatedly used in Mora’s cases, three of whom have since been convicted of felony insurance fraud.

The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting this case. Since the investigation began in 2006, the District Attorney’s Office has obtained 94 convictions of individual defendants involved in this ring, including 63 felony convictions.

Source: DOI

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