Weekly Car Insurance Crime Watch: January 3rd

Suspect in custodyThe news doesn’t stop, because crime never does either.

With the deluge of crime stories that Online Auto Insurance News (OAIN) sees every day relating to car coverage, here is a roundup of this week’s biggest headline-grabbing yarns.

And it certainly is a deluge. This week, California authorities deliver a ‘sequel’ to last year’s investigation into auto insurance fraud as police across the pond wrap up their own investigations relating to car coverage.

‘Sequel’ to California Operation Produces Fraud Charges Against Dozens

In 2013, sequels were Hollywood’s surefire formula for success.

So in true California fashion, authorities throughout the state delivered their own kind of follow-up.

Dubbed as a “sequel” to 2012’s similarly named investigation into car insurance fraud, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office (SDCDA) said that “Operation Insure 2” yielded charges that authorities recently handed out to dozens of defendants.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said that the joint investigation attack “one of the most common types of insurance fraud in San Diego County.”

The SDCDA said that most of the charges stem from auto insurance claims in which policyholders buy a car insurance policy or reinstate it, but allegedly “either lied or omitted information to the insurance company” when they subsequently filed the “false claim.”

“At the time of the loss, the suspects did not have valid insurance coverage,” according to the SDCDA.

Authorities even managed to preserve that sacred Hollywood rule: all good sequels build on their predecessors.

In 2012, “Operation Insure” posted charges against 42 defendants. A year later, investigators upped the ante in “Operation Insure 2,” which yielded charges against 43 defendants.

In U.K., Firefighting Hero Jailed for Sports Car Con

The mid-life crisis for a “once-heroic” firefighter in the U.K. just got worse, as Anthony Murray began his five-year jail sentence for setting his sports car on fire outside his own fire station and trying to scam his car insurer for the blaze.

CNN reported that the 41-year-old father, whose nickname was “Chunk,” tried to devise the incident after having trouble with loan payments on his BMW Alpina, which cost around $77,000.

In 2009, Murray was hailed as a hero after saving an elderly woman in a house fire.

Now, Murray is in jail after getting a friend to set the car on fire yards behind his fire station (two other cars were damaged) and writing “a series of threatening letters” in an attempt to throw investigators off his trail.

The CNN report called Anthony Murray’s attempt “a brazen con,” and called Murray himself “bungling” and “scheming.”

Device Locates Courtesy Car, Aids in Throat-cutting Case’s Conviction

Privacy is one of the main concerns of critics of telematics, a type of information technology that allows car insurers to track their policyholders’ driving routes.

But some private moments really should be shared, and you can count attempted murders among them.

In Scotland’s Glasgow, a telematics device helped investigators seal a conviction against Daniel Paita, who drove in February 2013 a courtesy car to a home where he cut the throat of a man who had agreed to meet with Paita to smooth over a disagreement (the victim survived the attack).

The Audi A3 was outfitted with a “black box,” a term mostly used in Europe to describe a device that plugs into the vehicle and can track the time and location of a vehicle.

In other words, the device gives investigators exactly what they need, and Paita’s attempt at murder was a case in point.

Location: Ryseside Road.

Time: 2:15 p.m.

“It is extremely pleasing to have been an important cog in convicting an individual like this,” Neil Thomas, an expert with the Asset Protection Unit told recombu.com. “It might never have happened at all had the device not been installed in his car.”

About Charles Nguyen
Charles Nguyen is an enterprising journalist who reported for Patch.com and the Desert Dispatch and was the editor in chief of the Guardian (the twice-weekly newspaper at the University of California, San Diego) before coming to Online Auto Insurance News.

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