Investigators with the California Department of Insurance (CDI) Fraud Division have arrested a Newhall, Calif., man for allegedly staging the theft of his high-end pickup truck in a scheme to defraud his auto insurance carrier of $45,000.
According to CDI, Eric Joseph Horvat, 28, was arrested on Feb. 23, 2007 on one felony count of insurance fraud and one felony count of perjury stemming from a stolen vehicle report he made concerning his customized 2006 Ford F-150 pick-up truck. Investigators say they received a tip that Horvat was looking for someone to help him stage the theft of his vehicle. An undercover officer contacted Horvat and arranged a series of meetings, during which the accused indicated that he no longer wanted his truck and wanted to stage its theft so his insurer, Mercury Insurance, would pay off the $45,000 balance he owed on it. According to investigators, Horvat also asked the undercover officer to pay him $3,000 for the right to “steal” the truck.
On Jan. 19, 2007, Horvat took the $3,000 and voluntarily turned over his truck to the undercover officer. A few days later, he contacted the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and reported his truck stolen, then relayed the same story to Mercury Insurance, which had already been notified of the investigation.
Horvat was booked on $30,000 bail at the Los Angeles County Main Jail. If convicted, he faces up to 5 years in state prison, and up to $50,000 in fines. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office will prosecute the case.
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