SAN JOSE- On April 13, 2016, the California Department of Insurance reported that eight people were arrested and a ninth was being sought in an insurance fraud case which involved filing fraudulent insurance claims for vehicle accidents that didn't happen.
Juan Ortiz Velazquez, 27, of San Jose and owner of Carlos Auto Body, was arrested with seven other suspects and charged with multiple counts of felony insurance fraud for allegedly filing 20 fraudulent claims to four insurance companies for crashes that never occurred, leading to more than $140,000 in losses.
"California is ground zero for staged auto collisions," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Organized crime rings are responsible for the majority of staged collisions, which are costly to insurers and consumers. The multi-agency Urban Grant Task Force is one of our most effective weapons in eradicating these crimes."
After receiving an anonymous tip and a suspected fraud referral from a victim insurer in 2012, the Department of Insurance launched an investigation. Evidence revealed the alleged crimes and the discovery that a second body shop, Filo's Auto Body, owned by Filomeno Arreguin Lucatero, was also involved in the fraud scheme.
Detectives uncovered evidence that Velazquez paid his co-conspirators $500 each to allow him to damage their vehicles, submit claims to the insurance company, and collect payment from the insurers. Detectives also found evidence that Velazquez and Lucatero did not complete some work as it was ordered on damage estimates.
"Californians pay high premiums for their auto insurance, and insurance fraud is part of the reason why," said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. "Unscrupulous individuals think they can get away with filing false claims and cashing in, but California Department of Insurance detectives will catch up with them. Just look at their track record."
This case is being prosecuted by the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.
The eight arrested are identified as:
- Jose Caro Curiel, 46, of Santa Clara,
- Melissa Duarte, 27, of Hollister,
- Filomeno Arreguin Lucatero, 45, of Milpitas,
- Angel Resendiz, 39, of Gilroy,
- Manuel Resendiz, 40, of Los Banos,
- Deisy Ramirez Robles, 27, of San Jose,
- Lorenzo Robles Ramirez, 25, of San Jose,
- and Juan Ortiz Valezquez, 27, of San Jose.