Million-Dollar Insurance Crime Ring Broken Up in Pennsylvania

Charges filed Thursday in Pennsylvania link a dozen people to a variety of schemes authorities say supported a criminal network that siphoned millions from the insurance industry.

The alleged ringleader was Clifford McCoy, a 62-year-old New Jersey man who used his license as an insurance agent, several companies he operated in Philadelphia and other co-conspirators in a number of schemes, according to a press release from the office of Attorney General Linda Kelly.

McCoy and other suspects furnished false information to insurers and exploited access codes only available to agents to purchase bare-bones policies from the cheapest car insurance companies in Pennsylvania for residents of other states.

The suspects allegedly used fake addresses to issue thousands of Pennsylvania policies to vehicle owners who were not residents of the Keystone State. The scheme was meant to duck pricier premiums in surrounding states.

They were also involved in “transfer and lease-back schemes,” according to authorities, that used a title transfer business owned by McCoy to issue illegal registration and policies to nonresidents who transferred car ownership to the company, which then illegally leased the vehicle back to the owner for a onetime charge and monthly fee.

More than 4,700 cars in Pennsylvania were registered under McCoy’s company between January 2006 and May 2008, the release stated.

Those arrested included James Bernier, a 40-year-old Philadelphia man who authorities believe made and sold counterfeit permits and documents that served as proof of residency in Pennsylvania.

In the end, the crime ring’s alleged suspects earned more than $500,000 and cost the industry millions in phony claims, according to the attorney general’s office.

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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