Two Elk Grove, Calif., residents were arrested on insurance fraud charges related to the alleged staged theft, arson, and subsequent insurance claim for a vehicle belonging to one of the suspects.
According to the California Insurance Commissioner’s office, investigators believe Amy Michelle Quist, 29, and her friend Jennifer Marie Griffin, 27, staged the theft and then damaged Quist’s 2001 Ford Mustang convertible to collect insurance money. Quist was charged with five felonies, including one count of presenting a false claim, three counts of perjury, and one count of arson of property. Griffin was charged with two felonies, including one count of presenting a false claim and one count of arson of property.
Quist was booked into the Sacramento County main jail on January 19 and made bail, set at $30,000. Griffin surrendered herself the same day at the Sacramento Sheriff’s Warrant Office and made bail, set at $5,000. The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the case.
On March 30, 2005, Quist reported to the Elk Grove Police Department that her car had been stolen while parked in the city of Elk Grove. The car was later found burning in rural Sacramento County. Quist subsequently filed an insurance claim with her carrier, Allstate Insurance. It was later determined that Quist allegedly paid Griffin and a third person to destroy the car. When the third person backed out of the arrangement, Quist and Griffin allegedly burned the vehicle themselves. The value of the burned vehicle is estimated to be over $13,000.
The investigation is being conducted by the Sacramento County Urban Auto Insurance Fraud Task Force, which is made up of investigators with the California Department of Insurance, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office, and the California Highway Patrol. The auto fraud task force, in operation since January 2001, targets any form of organized auto insurance fraud, including staged theft and vandalism rings, staged auto accident rings, medical-legal mills, and other types of organized auto insurance fraud. In July of 2005, the task force conducted an arrest sweep in Sacramento County in which nine persons were taken into custody for participating in five separate owner give-up cases. All nine were successfully prosecuted by the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office and were sentenced up to 240 days in county jail, plus payment of fines and restitution.
Various agencies assisted with the investigation of this case, including the Elk Grove Police Department, the National Insurance Crime Bureau, and the special investigation unit of Allstate Insurance Company.