Four Riverside, Calif. Residents Arrested for Alleged Fradulent Auto Theft Claim

March 7, 2006

California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi has announced the arrests of three Riverside, Calif., residents on charges that they allegedly filed a fraudulent auto theft claim on a car that was later found in an orange grove – with a bird’s nest under the hood.

The March 1 arrests of Edward James Richardson Jr., 23, Lourdes Richardson, 45, and Carissa Lambert, 23, came after an investigation by the California Department of Insurance (CDI). An additional suspect in the case, Edward James Richardson Sr., was arrested on March 2. All four are accused of filing a fraudulent claim with Clarendon National Insurance Co.

Richardson Jr. is charged with six felonies: (1) abandoning insured property; (2) presenting a fraudulent insurance claim; (3) filing a fraudulent motor vehicle claim; (4) providing false statements in support of an insurance claim; (5) false police report; and (6) perjury. Lourdes Richardson, Lambert, and Richardson Sr., are each charged with providing false statements in support of the insurance claim.

The investigation disclosed that Richardson Jr. told Clarendon National Insurance Co. (under oath) that an insured 2003 Ford Expedition had been stolen from his parents’ home on January 22, 2005. However, the Ford was actually discovered abandoned in an orange grove days prior to the alleged date of theft. It was in poor condition – in fact, a completed bird’s nest was found under the hood in the engine compartment.

If this had been accepted as a legitimate claim, Clarendon National Insurance Co. would have paid out between $18,000 and $19,000, CDI said.

The Riverside County District Attorney’s office is prosecuting the case. The suspects were booked at the Riverside County Jail. Bail was set at $50,000 for Richardson Jr. and $25,000 for the other three suspects. This case was investigated by the CDI Rancho Cucamonga regional fraud office’s Organized Automobile Fraud Activity Interdiction Program, a joint task force consisting of CDI, the California Highway Patrol and the Riverside County District Attorney’s office. Further arrests are pending.

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