In this edition of Fraud Files we focus on an Arizona man who was arrested and charged with allegedly filing over 110 fraudulent insurance claims over a two-year span. Marcel Deweaver was charged with allegations of fraud schemes, theft, insurance fraud and identity theft and is awaiting trial.
As we’ve written in the past tow trucks scams are becoming a major issue across the country. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) is warning and educating consumers about unethical and illegal practices among some rogue towing and storage operators and repair shops around the nation.
In our latest episode of Fraud Files we take a look at how states are cracking down on illegal towing fees.
Here’s a list of the most recent legislative activity involving towing laws across the country:
California – Assembly Bill 1222, Signed Into Law – September 2015
* Prohibits a towing company from stopping at an accident scene unless summoned to the scene by the owner of the vehicle, owner/operator, or requested by law enforcement
* Establishing requirements to provide proof that a tow truck driver was summoned to the scene
* Require towing companies to provide a written estimate of all charges to the vehicle operator and a signature by the vehicle operator before proceeding with the tow and maintaining a cap on the amount of the tow
* Require towing companies to maintain a record of all towing documents for a period of 3 years and to make those records available for inspection by law enforcement
* Misdemeanor penalties
* Penalties on towers who illegally solicit accident victims – Class 4 Felony
* Towers who violate the accident scene solicitation law can be sued by the vehicle owner and/or the owner’s insurer.
* Also created a statewide relocation towing commission tasked with examining the towing laws of the state and to make recommendations
Missouri – House Bill 1976 – Law Effective November 2016
* Prohibits a towing company from stopping at an accident scene unless summoned to the scene by the owner of the vehicle, owner/operator, or requested by law enforcement, unless it’s an emergency situation
* Allow vehicle owners access to storage yard and sets requirements for when storage yards to be open
* Requires towers to make available upon request a written estimate of all tow-related charges
* Requires a tow rotation list be maintained and utilized by the Missouri State Police, but local jurisdictions are not mandated to use that list
* Misdemeanor penalties for 1st offense, felony on 2nd
Ohio – House Bill 341, Signed into Law – January 2017
* Allows a civil action by insurers against a towing company operator to recover a vehicle. The vehicle is released within 2 days of the insurance company paying the “undisputed amount” of the bill from the towing company.
* NICB is working with a state lawmaker from the Pittsburgh area on legislation in 2017 to address towing abuses in Pennsylvania. The problem is most prominent in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
Anyone with information concerning tow scams can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 1-800-TEL-NICB (1-800-835-6422), texting keyword “fraud” to TIP411 (847411) or by visiting our web site at www.nicb.org.
For 29 years the car was stashed in a storage facility gathering dust. That was until the storage fees stopped coming in and NICB was asked to investigate. What we discovered was a tale of a stolen vehicle, paid insurance claims and alleged murder.
In this edition of Fraud Files we take a look at the recovery of a 2016 Chevrolet Corvette and a 2015 Ford F-150 with a total value of $96,000.
This 2016 Chevrolet Corvette was recovered at the scene
A Michigan man was arrested and charged with allegedly using false identification to purchase the vehicles from dealerships and financing them using stolen identities. Recovered at the scene were a 2016 Chevrolet Corvette with a value of over $63,000 as well as a 2015 Ford F-150 with a value of over $33,000. Both vehicles had theft claims on them.
The subject was arrested and charged in a nine count felony complaint and was also charged as a habitual offender. The National Insurance Crime Bureau assisted in the investigation.
In this edition of Fraud Files we take a look at two schemes that occurred in New Jersey. One involving a financial scheme with auto loans and the other regarding medical fraud with a dishonest doctor.
The El Paso Police Department’s Auto Theft Task Force, along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Texas Department of Public Safety, Homeland Security Investigations and the National Insurance Crime Bureau, conducted “Operation Paint Job.” The operation sting looked into body shops suspected of committing insurance fraud.
Ten employees have been arrested on suspicion of insurance fraud. The 22-month investigation revealed employees at some body shops were intentionally damaging vehicles to file insurance claims. In some instances accidents were staged.
Authorities in New Jersey charged 21 people in connection with an international carjacking and stolen car trafficking ring that allegedly involved stealing luxury cars and shipping them across the country and to West Africa. The 16-month long investigation called Operation 17 Corridor recovered just over 90 stolen vehicles.
“The criminals in this ring scouted golf courses, pricey restaurants, malls and suburban driveways to find the specific luxury cars they coveted, working in teams to commit armed carjackings and other thefts,” stated New Jersey Attorney General John J. Hoffman. “While fortunately we have not had anyone shot or murdered during a carjacking in this case, we’ve seen in other cases how quickly things can turn deadly when carjackers carry out the type of armed ambushes this ring committed. We’ve completely dismantled this dangerous network and charged its members with first-degree crimes.”
Over $4 million in stolen vehicles were taken from communities in North and Central Jersey and shipped to West Africa. Members of the theft crew stored the vehicles at locations including short-term airport parking garages, housing complexes, warehouses and shipping containers to make sure tracking devices would not lead law enforcement to the ring.
The stolen vehicles were then sold domestically as well as shipped internationally to Ghana, Nigeria, Guinea, and Gambia, where vehicles of these types sell for prices in excess of three times the market value in the United States.
A dozen people have been indicted for their role in an alleged criminal racketeering scheme that targeted senior citizens in eight New Jersey counties and New York and also conducted phoney slip-and-falls to collect insurance money. The Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office has dismantled an alleged ring of scam artists, indicting the 12 individuals on 51 counts of racketeering and related crimes committed through the area.
In this edition of Fraud Files we take a look at John Henricks III who used to operate a towing and body shop. He was convicted of insurance fraud for staging accidents and creating false work invoices to the tune of $1.3 million.
Henricks’ sentence was changed last month from 120 months to 151 months in federal prison because, according to the judge, he has willfully failed to make any effort to pay restitution to the victims.