CA Brings Down 22-Person Fraud RingInsurance Fraud, s — By Trace America on April 19, 2012 at 2:13 PM
The Contra Costa County district attorney’s office charged almost two dozen people for staged collisions and insurance fraud on April 17th.
According to the San Ramon Express, the indictment alleges over $500,000 in losses.
On April 17th, District Attorney Mark Peterson charged the scheme’s ringleader, Kelechi Chukwueke, with 61 felony counts of grand theft, insurance fraud and conspiracy. Of those, Chukwueke pled guilty to 12 felonies, including conspiracy and insurance fraud stemming from nine staged automobile accidents and nine staged auto and residential burglary theft related claims.
Chukwueke will serve seven years in prison and be required to pay restitution to the victims and a $100,000 fine. Along with Chukwueke, 20 of the 22 original defendants, who reside in Hercules, Antioch, Richmond, Brentwood and Solano County, have resolved their cases. Two other defendants, Vivian Obi and Damon Rowden, resolved their cases with the victims’ insurance companies.
The fraudulent claims were filed between June 2002 and May 2010, and The 21 other defendants were indicted on 289 felony counts of insurance fraud, grand theft, burglary and conspiracy on Sept. 22, 2011.
These indictments and convictions came about because of an almost three-year investigation by the California Department of Insurance Fraud Division, the California Highway Patrol, the National Insurance Crime Bureau, several different police departments, the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office and the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office.
Deputy District Attorney Alison Chandler said, “The commitment of local and state law enforcement agencies allow for conspiracies such as this to be discovered and successfully prosecuted in Contra Costa County. The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office thanks the agencies for their commitment, hard work, and dedication because without them, these criminals would never have been brought to justice.”
Dozens of search warrants were served by law enforcement officers and resulted in the recovery of over $60,000, expensive electronics, diamond rings, and other valuables. Along with that, over $35,000 of restitution money has been collected from co-conspirators to pay back several insurance companies.
A release from the Contra Costa D.A.’s office noted that this is believed to be one of the largest criminal insurance fraud conspiracies in the history of Contra Costa County.
Through a review of hundreds of suspect insurance claims and interviews with witnesses across the country, detectives determined that the coconspirators were staging vehicle collisions as well as residential and auto burglaries then submitting false documents in support of the claims. Fraudulent claims included falsified police reports, traffic collision reports, personal injury claims and vandalism claims.
As the brains behind over 33 claims that netted more than $300,000, defendants Bede and Paul Onwuvuariri, and Kelechi Chukwueke are thought to be the most heavily involved in the conspiracy. Detectives discovered that these individuals threatened and manipulated many of the other co-conspirators, forcing their silence and participation during the scam.
The Onwuvuariri’s will each serve three years in prison. The other defendants listed below, who each received a county jail sentence with probation and restitution are:
- Audra Gist
- Tasha Coleman
- Chaynia Wilson
- Mechell Howard
- Vonda Stallworth
- Evelyn Nwansi
- John Michael Goodnews Ononaji
- Chukwunedum Amajoiyi
- Pamela Faith
- Amor Olivan
- Vivian Anyanwu
- Anthony Onwuvuariri
- Sylvester Onwuvuariri
- Eberechukwu Sonoiki
- Aimee Kimfuema
- Shuntay Rhoades
- Phillip Davis
This investigation is still ongoing and officials are still trying to determine the total amount of loss to the insurance industry, which is estimated at over $500,000. Investigators have received assistance from the insurance companies that fell victim to these scams, such as Geico, Allstate, State Farm, Balboa, Homesite, Progressive, VESTA Insurance, Republic Western, AIG and Farmers as well as the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
This post is authored by Trace America.