Nine defendants have been charged with 34 felony crimes including filing fraudulent auto insurance claims. Six defendants were arrested on January 31, and police are searching for one more. Two people received notices that they have been charged and must appear in court.
"When cheaters scam insurance companies, law abiding citizens end up footing the bill," District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said. "Our insurance fraud team did an excellent job collaborating with the California Department of Insurance and Highway Patrol to dismantle this crime ring."
Operation Persistent was a two-year investigation that uncovered a web of fraudsters who victimized insurance companies over several years. The ring used various schemes to file 34 false insurance claims for auto property damage. The schemes included staged collisions, nonexistent collisions, using already damaged vehicles, and phony vehicle thefts.
The crimes were discovered thanks to the diligent efforts of the San Diego Automobile Insurance Fraud Task Force. The joint task force is dedicated to investigating all forms of auto insurance fraud and is supervised by the California Department of Insurance. It is made up of law enforcement officers from the Department of Insurance, the San Diego District Attorney's Office, and California Highway Patrol. The National Insurance Crime Bureau also provides support to the task force.
"Insurance fraud is not a victimless crime," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "We all pay for these crimes when insurers pass along the losses through higher premiums."
The San Diego ring made false insurance claims totaling approximately $200,000. The defendants bilked 12 insurance companies out of about $125,000. Victim insurance companies include Allstate, Access, GEICO, Infinity, State Farm, Rental Insurance Services, Fred Loya, Nationwide, Alliance, Farmers, Nations, and Travelers.
"Insurance fraud can directly impact the lives of law-abiding people and staged collisions have taken the lives of innocent people in our state," said Jim Abele, Border Division Chief for the California Highway Patrol. "The California Highway Patrol is dedicated to reducing collisions, vehicle theft, and insurance fraud. The San Diego Automobile Insurance Fraud Task Force partnership provides a needed focus on auto-insurance crimes and enables better sharing of case information among fraud fighters."
Defendants include: Yesenia Perez, 26; Darice Orozco, 37; Oscar Vargas, 31; Jesus Diego, 31; Roberto Ramirez, 27; Abel Ramirez, 31; Maria Linares, 24; Juan Augustin, 30; and Francine Moreno, 25.
Maria Linares and Juan Augustin were arraigned February 3 and Jesus Diego and Yesenia Perez were arraigned February 7.
Abel Ramirez, Roberto Ramirez, Oscar Vargas and Darice Orozco were arraigned February 1 and pleaded not guilty. Their next court date is February 10.