California Man Nabbed for Auto Insurance Fraud

October 9, 2009

California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner announced today that Tony Lu, 56, of San Jose, was arrested on October 7 and charged with filing a false motor vehicle claim, perjury and falsely reporting a crime. Lu was booked at the Santa Clara County Jail on $20,000 bail.

In November 2008, Sentry Insurance contacted the Department of Insurance after receiving a suspected fraudulent claim from Lu. The company alleged that Lu fraudulently reported his 1999 Toyota 4-Runner stolen from a restaurant in San Jose. On October 16, 2008, Lu reported his vehicle stolen to the San Jose Police Department and filed a stolen vehicle claim with his insurance company. Lu’s vehicle was recovered by the San Jose Police Department the same day. After giving conflicting statements to the Santa Clara County Regional Auto Theft Task Force and Sentry Insurance regarding the whereabouts of his vehicle, Lu withdrew his claim from Sentry Insurance with no dollar amount paid. The California Department of Insurance (CDI) investigation revealed that Lu allegedly attempted to use his vehicle as collateral for a private loan before reporting it stolen.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting this case.

Recently-compiled Department of Insurance statistics show that financially desperate residents and scam artists may be committing more automobile insurance fraud to cash in on insurance money.

CDI saw an alarming 31 percent increase in suspected vehicle arson fraud cases in 2008 as compared with referred cases in 2007. (In 2007, CDI received 344 referrals for suspected automobile arson; in 2008, CDI received 451 referrals for suspected automobile arson.) Overall, the Department received almost 300 additional suspected vehicle theft and vehicle arson cases statewide in 2008 than in 2007. CDI received approximately 200 more suspected vehicle theft fraud case referrals in 2008 than in 2007.

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