“Insurance fraud leads to higher premiums for all of us, which is why we applaud California Department of Insurance investigators and detectives for their work in investigating those who commit this crime. We also thank the local district attorneys’ offices that proceed with prosecutions.” – CSLEA President Alan Barcelona
STOCKTON—On March 22, 2023, Eliu Canales, 43, was arraigned on 54 felony counts of insurance fraud, assault with a deadly weapon and reckless driving after a joint investigation by the California Department of Insurance and San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office found he allegedly staged collisions with unsuspecting drivers in order to collect more than $35,000 in payouts from insurance companies.
The joint investigation revealed that between 2017 and 2022 Canales, while working for AAA as a lead tow truck driver who taught defensive driving, orchestrated approximately 22 vehicle collisions with unsuspecting drivers. In order to cause these collisions, Canales would hide in the blind spots of other drivers and as those drivers attempted to change lanes, Canales would accelerate and sometimes turn into the other vehicles.
Following the collisions, Canales would immediately file insurance claims against the other drivers’ insurance companies. Canales claimed more than $86,000 in damage and was received more than $35,000 from the insurance companies. He used audio and video recording devices to document the collisions, many of which were at the same locations, and then uploaded the recordings on his YouTube channel, Stockton Drivers, to highlight “bad drivers” in the area. Most of the videos have been removed from his YouTube channel.
If you suspect you or someone you know are the victim of a staged collision insist on a police report; document as much information about the collision as possible; use a cell phone to document the post-collision damage with photographs or video; ask the peace officer to positively identify everyone involved; and report the suspicious collision to the California Department of Insurance by calling 800-927-4357 or visit our website at insurance.ca.gov.
Canales was arrested on March 14, 2023 and was arraigned March 15, 2023. He appeared in court March 22nd for further arraignment and is scheduled to return to court on March 29, 2023. The San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting this case.