A judge recently sentenced 30-year-old Michael Young of Sacramento, Calif., to more than 10 years in state prison for leading a fraud scheme that bilked insurers out of an estimated $500,000.
California authorities assert that Young and several others filed multiple insurance claims after crashing cars into each other or filing claims on vehicles with existing damage, an illegal practice known as “paper collisions.”
According to California Highway Patrol detectives, Young’s fraud ring operated in the Sacramento area between 2014 and early 2016, filing dozens of claims ranging with a number of insurance companies. The individual claims ranged between $5,000 and $40,000.
In most cases, the scofflaws used false identities to register and insure the vehicles involved in the fraudulent claims, and accomplices followed scripts when communicating with insurers, according to California authorities. Some defendants allowed their identities to be used for compensation and then cashed checks issued in their names.
The ring grew as friends and family members were recruited, according to investigators.
“California is ground zero for auto insurance fraud, and every policyholder pays for these crimes through higher auto insurance rates,” said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. “This organized-crime ring was brought down by the hard work of our detectives and the California Highway Patrol. Our investigative partnerships with law enforcement partners and district attorneys are critical to eradicating insurance fraud.”
Young was arrested in April 2016, and charged with numerous felonies, including insurance fraud, possession of stolen vehicles, identity theft and possession of firearms by a convicted felon. The case is being prosecuted by the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office.
Detectives are seeking three at-large suspects with outstanding warrants and asking for the public’s help to find them. The suspects are: Jazlyn Ladana Burrell, 20, of Vallejo; Lavina Louise Nunally, 26, of Sacramento; and Desiree Patricia Vasquez, 22, of Sacramento.