Calif Men Arrested for Alleged Fraud, Arson

August 2, 2002

Investigators with the California Department of Insurance (CDI) Criminal Investigations Branch’s Fraud Division arrested two men on insurance fraud and arson charges.

Emmanuel Benavides Torres, 25, and Oscar Gomez Martinez, 26, were arrested and booked into the Madera County Jail. Bail was set at $100,000 each.

According to investigators, a CDI investigation was initiated after a Suspected Fraudulent Claim Referral was received from Geico Insurance Company. On Dec. 19, 2001, Torres reportedly reported his 2001 Chevy Silverado pickup had been stolen and burned while he and his friend Martinez attended a movie at Gateway Cinema in Madera. During the processing of the claim, Torres reportedly submitted numerous receipts for vehicle equipment, vehicle customizations, and personal property on or in the truck at the time of the alleged theft. After learning that several of the receipts had been allegedly altered, Geico referred the case to CDI.

Investigators from CDI confirmed the alleged altered receipts and further investigation allegedly revealed several more, including a receipt from a prior burglary claim submitted by Torres on Oct. 29, 2001. Investigators learned the personal property Torres claimed as lost was not in the vehicle at the time of the alleged theft, and also that much of the custom equipment on the truck had allegedly been removed by Torres prior to the theft.

Investigators allege Torres removed the custom equipment, burned his own truck, and with the assistance of Martinez, reported it stolen to collect the insurance money. During the claim process, Martinez allegedly made false and misleading statements to investigators in furtherance of Torres’ claim.

Torres eventually withdrew his claim in its entirety after Geico demanded he submit to an Examination under Oath.

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