California authorities are attempting to break up a “family-run organized crime ring” involving the owners of seven body shops that allegedly bilked insurance companies out of more than $500,000.
Detectives from the California Department of Insurance detectives and investigators with the Auto Insurance Fraud Task Force arrested seven suspects, charged an additional 22 who are self-surrendering, and still are seeking 11 more suspects for allegedly running an organized automotive insurance fraud ring
The state filed more than 230 felony charges against 40 suspects in connection with crimes committed in seven auto body shops across Coach Valley, a region in between Los Angeles and San Diego. The body shops staged up to 40 false insurance claims receiving payouts totaling $560,492 from 10 different insurance companies, including some of the largest auto insurers in the nation, according to authorities.
“This was an elaborate conspiracy to rip off insurers to the tune of nearly a half a million dollars,” said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. “Insurance fraud is not a victimless crime. The cost of fraud is shouldered by consumers who pay higher premiums when insurers pass along their losses.”
The seven body shops are:
- Tiger Auto
- Supreme Auto Body
- Diamond Auto Body
- Superior Auto Body
- All Valley Auto Body
- Ferrari Auto Collision
- 760 Auto Collision
Investigators from the Department of Insurance initially received information about the crime ring in 2014, as part of a previous bust of suspects allegedly running a similar crime ring. Investigators with the department’s Urban Auto Insurance Fraud Task Force allege that the owners of the seven body shops conspired with employees and family who posed as insurance consumers and filed fraudulent claims for collisions that were either staged or never occurred at all.
Two examples of fraudulent claims filed by the conspirators included one claiming substantial bodily injury in which the insurer paid over $100,000. In another, the suspects allegedly staged a collision that targeted an innocent motorist leaving her vehicle with significant damage.