Twelve individuals have been arrested in connection with a million dollar auto theft ring that cheated car dealerships and insurance companies in the Los Angeles area. The California Department of Insurance reports that charges have been brought against a total of 17 people and more arrests are expected in this ongoing investigation.
The scheme involved the use of phony credit cards and bank accounts to purchase high end vehicles from dealerships in the Los Angeles area. Once the vehicles were insured, the suspects staged wrecks that often involved multiple vehicles driven by members of the scheme. They then filed fraudulent claims on the damage and defaulted on the loans.
The companies hit by the fraudulent claims include: Geico, Farmers, Progressive, Ameriprise, Unitrin, State Farm, Nationwide, Allstate and Wawenesa. The names of the dealerships will not be released to the public until the investigation concludes.
The defendants have been charged by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office with theft of a vehicle by false pretenses, insurance fraud, grand theft from insurance companies, perjury on Department of Motor Vehicle documents, and giving false information on government documents.
Two individuals involved in this insurance fraud scheme are currently making arrangements to surrender while authorities continue the search for four others.
The investigation involved the Los Angeles Police Department’s Task Force for Regional Auto Theft Prevention, Ventura County’s Auto Theft Task Force, the California Highway Patrol, the Franchise Tax Board, and members of the San Bernardino County and Riverside County district attorney’s offices.