CDI Investigates Philadelphia Resident Caught in Auto Fraud Scheme

April 1, 2002

The California Department of Insurance (CDI) announced the arrest of John Martin in his residence by the Philadelphia Police Department Felony Warrant Detail. The arrest warrant was issued on Feb. 5 in Orange Superior County Superior Court in response to two felony charges filed by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. According to investigators, on Sept. 17, 1999, Anthony Johnson (AKA John Martin) purchased an automobile insurance policy from the Automobile Club of Southern California (AAA) for his 1971 Cadillac.

On Sept. 22, 1999, Johnson notified AAA he had rear-ended a 1986 Maserati Biturbo driven by Rick Tom (AKA Nick Vlado) causing extensive rear end body damage to the Maserati. Tom filed a property claim with AAA for the damages to his vehicle. Nick Carden, a passenger in Tom’s vehicle at the time of the alleged collision also filed a personal injury claim with AAA.

On Oct. 1, 1999, AAA inspected Tom’s vehicle and declared it a total loss. AAA settled the claim with Tom for $4,865.08. Additionally, AAA requested a face-to-face interview with Carden to discuss his personal injury claim. Carden refused the request and dropped his claim with AAA.

Investigators say that on Oct. 8, 1999, Vlado purchased an automobile insurance policy for a 1991 Hyundai Excel from Prudential Insurance Company. On Oct. 19, 1999 Vlado notified Prudential he had rear-ended a 1986 Maserati Biturbo driven by Martin. Martin submitted a claim to Prudential for the body damage to his Maserati. On Oct. 20, 1999, a Prudential field appraiser inspected Martin’s Maserati and estimated the repair cost to be $3,232.09. The appraiser checked insurance records on the vehicle and discovered AAA had totaled the same vehicle on Oct. 1, 1999 for $4,865.08. Prudential paid Martin $970 for personal injuries and rental car expenses related to this claim before they discovered the previous accident involving the Maserati Biturbo.

A California Highway Patrol accident reconstructionist reviewed photographs of the body damage to the Maserati Biturbo from the Sept. 22 and Oct. 19, 1999 automobile accidents. He concluded the body damage in the Oct. 19 accident was the same body damage depicted in the Sept. 22, 1999 automobile accident.

Additionally, CDI Investigators discovered Martin and Vlado were allegedly involved in two prior automobile accidents (involving other vehicles) with each other in July 1996 and September 1998 with Allstate Insurance in which they received $3,208.97 and $6,800 respectively.

CDI Investigators, assisted by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), discovered that Martin and Vlado are allegedly part of a ring that has filed numerous automobile accident claims in various states over the past several years. FBI criminal records verified Anthony Johnson and John Martin is the same individual. CDI Investigators were able to verify Nick Vlado and Rick Tom is the same individual through witness interviews.

In January 2002, NICB detected that Martin filed an automobile claim with Allstate Insurance in Pennsylvania for an accident he was allegedly involved in with their insured party. At CDI’s request, Allstate asked Martin to submit to a face-to-face interview to discuss his claim. Martin decided to drop this claim with Allstate rather than submit to the interview.

Martin was booked into the Major Crime Unit and will appear before a judge for a bail hearing. He could face up to five years in jail and/or $50,000 in fines if convicted. Martin is scheduled for extradition to California to stand trial on insurance fraud charges. His alleged accomplice, Nick Vlado, is still a fugitive.

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