A pair of Fresno, Calif., residents were arrested following a 10-month investigation by the California Department of Insurance (CDI) Criminal Investigations Branch’s Fraud Division and several other task forces, including the California Highway Patrol, the Fresno County HEAT Team, the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office, the National Insurance Crime Bureau and the Bureau of Automotive Repair.
After serving search warrants at Whiplash Performance Center Inc., and Performance Wholesale Inc., Robert “Robbie” Lee Baker and his sister Karie Fabits were arrested.
Baker, 30, the manager of both businesses, and Fabits, 25, who served as bookkeeper and salesperson, were each arrested on a pair of counts of insurance fraud and booked into the Fresno County Jail on $10,000 bail. If convicted, both could serve up to 10 years in state prison and $100,000 in fines.
In the last year and a half, the CDI Fresno’s Regional Fraud Office obtained information from a number of insurance companies, including Allstate, Farmers, CSAA, and State Farm, in relation to suspected fraudulent insurance claim activity allegedly being conducted by an automotive repair and retail parts business called Whiplash Performance Center Inc., specializing in the repair and sale of four-wheel drive vehicle equipment.
Special investigators from a number of insurance companies stated they investigated several auto thefts of four-wheel drive vehicles where the vehicles recovered were stripped and/or burned.
According to the findings, the claimants, customers and/or employees of Whiplash Performance are alleged to have provided Whiplash Performance sales receipts for costly after-market parts, which included high performance engines that were missing at the time of recovery.
At the time Special Investigators checked on the validity of the receipts, employees of Whiplash Performance, including Baker and Fabits, allegedly authenticated the receipt.
Insurance company Special Investigators claim the vehicle thefts were staged and the reported stolen parts never either reached the vehicles or they were removed prior to the staged theft. Investigators also believe the claimants accidentally damaged a number of the suspect vehicles (off-road accidents), with the thefts staged to get the insurance companies to repair or replace them.
As a result of the activities, the insurance companies paid out more than $100,000 in fraudulent claims.
Other employees and customers who allegedly took part in illegal insurance fraud scams with the pair, may also be arrested in the near future as investigators continue gathering evidence.
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