FRESNO - On May 10, 2016, detectives from the California Department of Insurance arrested 15 suspects on multiple felony counts of insurance fraud for allegedly staging auto collisions to scam more than four insurance companies out of tens of thousands of dollars. Additional arrests are expected.
"Insurance detectives investigating this case have 28 suspects in their sights, 15 who have been arrested," said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association President Alan Barcelona. "Those committing insurance fraud should take note, the insurance commissioner and his detectives have an impressive goal to wipe out this widespread crime in California."
The suspects allegedly submitted 26 fraudulent insurance claims totaling more than $140,000. Once the insurers paid the claim, the suspects pocketed the proceeds and did not repair damaged vehicles. Department of Insurance detectives, along with Fresno County District Attorney investigators, launched an investigation after receiving suspected fraud referrals an insurance company. The California State Automobile Association Insurance Group was instrumental in assisting detectives with uncovering the fraud.
"California is ground zero for auto insurance fraud," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Insurance fraud costs insurers billions every year and those costs are all passed along to consumers through higher insurance premiums. Bottom line-everyone pays for insurance fraud."
Evidence revealed the suspects orchestrated an elaborate scheme to defraud insurers with paper collisions that never occurred or by intentionally damaging vehicles to submit fraudulent claims. The organized ring recruited some co-conspirators with promises of cash or fixing their previously damaged vehicles. Another element of scheme included stealing people's identities to submit fraudulent claims.
Detectives have identified an additional 13 suspects. Those arrested were booked into the Fresno County Jail.
Artur Ashotovich Grigoryan 32 Fresno (suspected ring leader)
Ray Chris Walker 54 Fresno