SANTA CLARA COUNTY– According to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, 22 people have been identified in their involvement in an elaborate scheme to commit insurance fraud.
“Nineteen Santa Clara County residents have been charged with operating a fraud ring which faked numerous car accidents,” Charlotte Chang, Deputy District Attorney with the Insurance Fraud Unit said. “Three additional suspects from Butte and San Benito Counties have also been charged.”
The accusation comes after months of investigation in what insurance companies were deeming an extensive theft ring. More than $200,000 dollars in reports of vehicle accidents by multiple individuals seemingly related to each other were recorded over a three year period.
Chang said, “Between 2012 and 2015, the ring staged 18 different accidents.” After an accident was reported the damaged vehicles would then be taken to one of two body shops, Espinosa Body Shop and/or Auto Parts USA. It was there that the reports of the damage would be escalated leading to the highest claim of $37, 723.
Chang said, “One of the false claims tipped off a Farmers Insurance investigator when the damage on one of the cars did not match the reported details of the loss.”
Once investigators began looking into the accidents, the investigative team discovered that multiple accidents had been reported through Espinosa Body Shop on numerous occasions just months after opening a new account with multiple insurance carriers.
“The owner of Espinosa Body Shop is being prosecuted by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office in a similar insurance fraud ring case involving 15 false claims filed by Gerardo Ivan Espinosa Martinez as the ringleader, and 17 of his associates, including his wife,” Chang said. “Over the last two years, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office has prosecuted four different organized insurance fraud rings totaling 82 defendants.