“Families struggle to pay their insurance premiums which are higher because of fraudulent activity such as what’s described in this investigation. CDI and local investigators work to identify those who commit insurance fraud, make arrests and assist in the prosecution of those charged.” – CSLEA President Alan Barcelona
BAKERSFIELD– On June 3, 2022, Eduardo Suarez, 38, was arraigned on two felony counts of insurance fraud and arson after he was arrested last month at his worksite on an outstanding warrant. Suarez allegedly conspired with his then girlfriend, Nicole Hamen, 37, to stage a vehicle theft and arson in order to obtain an insurance payout they were not entitled to receive. Attempts were made to locate and arrest Hamen on an outstanding warrant alleging similar charges, but she eluded authorities and remains at large.
A joint investigation by the California Department of Insurance, Bakersfield Fire Department Arson Division, and the Bakersfield Police Department began in May 2021 when the Bakersfield Fire Department responded to a report of a vehicle fire. An arson investigation revealed the burned vehicle, a 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander, belonged to Hamen. When the Bakersfield Police Department contacted Hamen at her residence, she claimed her vehicle had been stolen.
Hamen subsequently filed an insurance claim and told her insurance company she did not know who stole the vehicle, did not loan the vehicle to anyone, and claimed her vehicle was in good running condition prior to the alleged theft.
The investigation uncovered videos of Hamen and Suarez removing tires, rims and miscellaneous property from the vehicle, before Suarez towed it away from Hamen’s home to the eventual burn site approximately one mile away. The vehicle was dumped and gasoline was used to set the vehicle ablaze.
Authorities continue to search for Nicole Hamen.