Feds Stop ‘Bumper Car’ Fraud Scheme

November 20, 2000

Federal authorities charged 53 people last week in a $1 million insurance fraud scheme in New York. The FBI arrested 29 suspects, including the managers of a physical therapy clinic. The rest were being sought, except for the owner of a car service, Jean Maxon Lucien, who was arrested last month.

According to an Associated Press report, Lucien was charged for leading a scheme to recruit recent immigrants who were paid a few hundred dollars to be passengers in cars that were purposely crashed into vehicles driven by unsuspecting motorists. No one was injured in the 27 accidents that make up the case. But, according to the Associated Press report, the victims-for-hire made fake medical claims through the physical therapy clinic, resulting in insurance payments of up to $22,000 a piece.

The suspects even went so far as to choreograph the accidents, using their own vehicles to generate police reports, the report said. After one of these fake crashes, a passenger in the first car sought an insurance settlement from the registered owner of the second: himself. The fraud charges faced by the suspects carry penalties of up to 10 years in prison.

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