MARTINEZ- Not too many law-abiding citizens take kindly to cheats who scam insurance companies, jacking up premiums for everyone else. Nor do detectives with the California Department of Insurance (CDI). On June 23, 2015, CDI detectives arrested seven people in California and Washington for allegedly conspiring to defraud eight insurance companies. The group is accused of submitting more than 70 fraudulent auto insurance claims totaling more than $175,000.
Arrested were: (from left to right)
Ismael Chavez, 32, of Vallejo
Jose Guadalupe Ramos, 50, of Pittsburg
Jose Luis Ramos-Mercado, 37, of Martinez
Juan Carlos Chavez, 36, of Hayward
Maria Ortiz, 29, of Oakland
Carmen Vazquez, 39, of Everett, WA
Joel Palestino, 27, Everett, WA
All are all facing more than 100 criminal counts of felony insurance fraud.
"It may take some time, because there is so much insurance fraud taking place in California, but CDI detectives will catch up with these criminals," said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. "These types of criminals are the reason we all pay so much for insurance."
According to detectives, the suspects submitted fraudulent claims to multiple insurance companies for damage to vehicles that occurred prior to the vehicle being insured. The suspects allegedly used multiple aliases on the insurance claims to avoid detection by insurers. The investigation also revealed Mirage AutoCraft, owned by Jose Guadalupe Ramos, inspected the vehicles and was also involved in the conspiracy.
Assisting with this case were the Snohomish County Marshall's Office, Contra Costa District Attorney inspectors, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and the National Insurance Crime Bureau. If convicted on all counts, the suspects face from 5 to 35 years in state prison. Suspects arrested in Washington are being extradited to California for prosecution. The Contra Costa District Attorney's office is prosecuting this case.