Arrest warrants were issued this week for 26 suspects in connection with an automobile insurance fraud ring centered in the Columbus, Georgia area, according to a statement from Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens.
According to the statement, the fraud ring allegedly staged automobile collision and filed false claims which resulted in payouts of approximately $155,925 from 12 different insurance companies.
The warrants are the culmination of a 16-month investigation by the Georgia Department of Insurance’s Special Fraud Division.
The 26 suspects face a total of 326 charges, which range from insurance fraud, racketeering, theft by deception, identity fraud, and exploitation of an elder person.
The investigation revealed that the suspects are alleged to have been involved in an organized auto insurance fraud ring that submitted more than 50 suspicious claims to multiple insurance companies for damage to vehicles that occurred before the vehicle was insured. Also, the suspects allegedly used multiple aliases and stole identities on the insurance claims to avoid detection by insurers. Fraud investigators allege that the ring attempted to get payouts totaling more than $500,000.
Insurance companies victimized by the scam included GEICO, State Farm, Nationwide, Safe Auto, Allstate, Progressive, USAA, Georgia Farm Bureau, Safeway, Everest National, Direct Auto and General Insurance.
“This fraud ring staged phony accidents and filed fraudulent claims collecting thousands of dollars. Hudgens said. “I said my office was going to be tough on insurance fraud, and hopefully these arrests will send a strong message that I am serious about cracking down on insurance fraud.”
The Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office, the Webster County Sheriff’s Office, the Stewart County Sheriff’s Office, the Lumpkin Police Department, the Richland Police Department and the National Insurance Crime Bureau assisted with the investigation. The Muscogee County District Attorney’s office is prosecuting this case.
The names of the individuals for whom warrants were issued are available on the GADOI website.
Source: Georgia Department of Insurance