Allstate New Jersey Insurance Co. filed a civil suit Wednesday in Morris County Superior Court against 10 defendants alleging violations of the New Jersey Fraud Prevention Act and the New Jersey Civil RICO Statute, in connection with an Elizabeth-based staged accident ring.
In an operation that can only be described as a family affair, Rocio Barba is identified in the lawsuit as a key player in the fraud ring with several of her family members also being named as defendants, including Mercedes Antonio Villanueva, Barba’s common-law husband; Jose Barba, Barba’s brother; husband and wife Carlos and Zoila Peralta; and William Barba, another sibling of Barba.
The defendants are accused of staging 29 accidents in Elizabeth and Perth Amboy, and filing 37 claims for Personal Injury Protection, Bodily Injury and vehicle losses. In total, the defendants filed over $2 million in PIP and BI claims. The lawsuit seeks to prevent the payment of the alleged fraudulent claims.
While most fraud rings are tripped up by the pattern of evidence they leave behind, the lawsuit contends that the Barba ring was able to mask their fraud by staging accidents with vehicles they had stolen, as well as reporting hit-and-run accidents with New Jersey Transit buses. However, patterns did eventually emerge, such as common addresses, similar accident details and multiple fake identities.
Allstate New Jersey has obtained ring member confessions that will support its allegation of fraud. Allstate New Jersey also seeks to stay any arbitration, as well as recoup any payments pending or already made to the defendants in PIP arbitration proceedings. As such, the company has named the American Arbitration Association as a “defendant in interest” in the complaint.
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