$350K CA Auto Insurance Fraud Ring Busted; Leads to 15 Charged

May 20, 2024
The suspects are being charged with insurance fraud, grand theft by trick, and false impersonation.
California Department of Insurance via Facebook
66478baaf153da3b5b77ad2a California Department Of Insurance Cdi

A large-scale auto insurance fraud ring, allegedly responsible for over $350,000 in fraudulent claims, was busted by the Inland Empire Automobile Insurance Task Force in California, according to a news release from May 10.

This led to the arrest of 12 Southern California residents, and three additional residents have been charged for their alleged involvement.

The task force, which includes the California Department of Insurance, California Highway Patrol (CHP), San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office, and the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, began its investigation in November 2022. The probe was initiated after discovering that Rosa Isela Santistevan, 55, a non-sworn CHP employee from Irvine, was unlawfully selling traffic collision report face pages containing personal information of collision victims throughout Southern California.

The investigation led to the seizure of over 3,500 CHP traffic collision report face pages from the residence of Esmeralda Parga, 26, of Pomona. Parga was found to be connected to Santistevan through the organized ring’s ringleader, Andre Angelo Reyes, 36, of Corona. The conspiracy began after Reyes befriended Santistevan and other CHP employees by donating to various CHP events and parties.

Santistevan allegedly printed and unlawfully sold thousands of traffic collision face pages to Reyes, who would then provide the reports to Parga. Posing as an insurance company representative, Parga would contact the parties involved in the collision and coordinate having their vehicle towed to a repair center misrepresented as approved by the insurance company.

Victims were unaware that Parga did not represent the insurance company and was, in fact, stealing their vehicles. Reyes and Parga would then dispatch cooperating tow trucks to pick up the vehicles and tow them to CA Collision, a repair center owned by Anthony Gomez, 35, of Jurupa Valley. Once the vehicles were at CA Collision, the center would hold the vehicle hostage and demand cash payment from the insurance companies for their release.

Further evidence obtained during the investigation showed the alleged ring was engaged in other types of insurance fraud schemes, including collusive collisions. One such collision, intentionally crashing a BMW sedan into a Polaris Slingshot, was recorded by a defendant and discovered on the defendant’s phone during a search warrant. The defendants then falsely claimed two separate crashes occurring on the freeway.

The investigation resulted in 15 suspects being charged with insurance fraud, grand theft by trick, and false impersonation. The charges involved 19 fraudulent claims resulting in a loss of $353,035. Twelve of the 15 suspects were arrested yesterday.

The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the case, with assistance from the San Bernardino County Auto Theft Task Force in obtaining evidence and executing search and arrest warrants.

About the Author

FenderBender Staff Reporters

The FenderBender staff reporters have a combined two-plus decades of journalism and collision repair experience.

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