Detectives from the California Department of Insurance’s insurance fraud enforcement division arrested 15 Los Angeles area residents Thursday morning for allegedly staging auto collisions and filing more than $500,000 in fraudulent claims.
Four suspects are still being sought, and an additional 10 suspects are arranging to surrender.
Edwin Bautista, 41, of Sylmar and Luis Bautista, 32, of Pacoima, believed to be the ring leaders of an organized family insurance fraud crime ring were arrested Thursday with 13 others at various Southern California locations and taken into custody without incident, according to authorities. All were booked into Los Angeles County Jail.
The Bautista brothers, along with 27 accomplices, allegedly led a family crime ring filing 18 fraudulent auto insurance claims over a two-year period totaling more than $500,000.
According to investigators, the suspects intentionally crashed cars and then coached accomplices on how to fake injuries and file fraudulent insurance claims to get cash payments from insurers for bodily injuries and property damage.
“Insurance fraud is a multi-billion dollar criminal enterprise in California and Los Angeles is ground zero in our battle to combat these crimes,” California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said in a statement. “Every consumer pays for fraud through higher insurance premiums, as insurers pass along the cost of the losses to policyholders.”
Eleven insurance companies, including State Farm and Mercury, reportedly paid out more than $235,000 in claims before the fraud was uncovered.
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