LOS ANGELES –On January 24, 2024, the California Department of Insurance (CDI) announced that a home surveillance video camera helped lead investigators to five Southern California residents accused of staging an auto collision to collect an unearned insurance payout. Each defendant has been charged with one felony count of insurance fraud after an investigation by the Inland Empire Automobile Insurance Fraud Task Force.
The investigation revealed the five defendants had staged the crash and filed an insurance claim that could have resulted in a payout of more than $30,000. Surveillance video from a home near the collision shows one of the defendants leaving the vehicle in the middle of an intersection, while another defendant crashes into the vacated vehicle before both defendants flee the scene.
The task force began its investigation after the Ontario Police Department arrived at the scene of a collision where a woman at the scene claimed she was the victim of a hit and run. However, witnesses of the collision claimed she walked over to the vehicles after the crash.
The task force is comprised of detectives and investigators from the California Department of Insurance, California Highway Patrol, San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office, and the Riverside District Attorney’s Office. The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting this case.
The defendants include:
- Priscilla Carmona Arajo, 29, of Fontana, arrested on January 22, 2024
- Juan Barajas, 25, of Upland, currently in custody at the Orange County Jail on an unrelated case
- Gabriella Cervantes, 52, of Rancho Cucamonga, arrested January 16, 2024
- Roberto Carlos Macias, 40, of Chino, arrested January 11, 2024
- Humberto Ortiz, 32, of Ontario, arrested January 23, 2024