Arrests for August 2007
These arrests were made possible through the cooperation of the Frauds Bureau, law enforcement, the insurance industry and the public.
To report suspected incidents of insurance fraud, call 1-888-FRAUDNY
James Insinga, an upstate realtor, was sentenced on 8/7/07 to ten years in federal prison and ordered to share with other co-defendants the payment to three insurers of $430,000 in restitution. Six others have also been convicted of federal crimes in this case. In April 2001, the Delaware County Sheriff's Office requested the assistance of the Frauds Bureau based on information that Insinga had solicited someone to purchase a house with the intent to burn it for the insurance payment. An investigation by the Frauds Bureau, the U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI revealed that Insinga had links to fires in Otsego, Delaware and Chenango Counties, some dating as far back as the 1990s. More than $1,000,000 had been paid out by various insurers as a result of these fires. In addition, there was evidence of conspiracies to burn down one commercial and two residential properties. In each case where payouts were made, the defendants were able to set the fires in a way that fire investigators were unable to identify them as incendiary. The investigation led to his arrest on 12/15/03.
On 8/21/07, after a lengthy investigation that began in December 2004, a State Farm insurance adjuster pleaded guilty to wire fraud under Article 18 of the U.S. Code. The investigation, conducted jointly by the Frauds Bureau, the State Police and State Farm's SIU revealed that the defendant was involved in a scheme to defraud the insurer by accepting bribes from vendors for steering State Farm business their way. In addition, he acted in concert with the vendors to enhance legitimate claims. He then issued State Farm checks to the vendors for the enhanced amount and was paid a portion of the overpayment.
On 6/20/07, the suspect in this case reported to Progressive Insurance Company that he was involved in an accident in which his car hit a tree in a local orchard. Records showed that his auto insurance coverage on a previous policy ended in May 2007 and that he purchased the current policy on 6/15/07. Investigators also learned that on 6/10/07, a car had hit the porch of an abandoned house and a piece of wood retrieved from the suspect's car matched the wood on the porch. When faced with the evidence, the suspect confessed that he falsified the date of the loss in an effort to collect the insurance proceeds. The Frauds Bureau and Progressive's SIU pooled resources in the investigation that led to his arrest.
A 2004 Chevrolet Suburban owned by the defendant in this case was totally destroyed by fire on the afternoon of 7/3/06. He subsequently filed a claim with GEICO and received $24,000 for the loss. The claim, which he has since admitted was fraudulent, stated that the fire started when a five-gallon gas can spilled onto a warm gas-powered lawn trimmer located in the back-cab area of the Suburban. The Buffalo Fire Department believed the fire was suspicious after an examination turned up evidence of combustible material in the front-cab area. The suspect then confessed that he started the fire by pouring gasoline on rolled up paper in the front-cab area and lighting it. His reason: he was mad at his wife. The Buffalo Fire Department requested the assistance of the Frauds Bureau in this investigation.
- OFF THE BOOKS
Arrested on 8/23/07
Charged with falsifying business records in the 1st degree and fraudulent practices under the Workers' Compensation Law
After sustaining a work-related back injury, a restaurant worker began receiving workers' compensation benefits. However, he was arrested after an investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the Orange County Sheriff's Office uncovered evidence that while collecting $5,500 in benefits, he was working off the books at another restaurant.
- WORKING WHILE COLLECTING
Arrested on 8/17/07
Charged with insurance fraud, falsifying business records and grand larceny
An investigation conducted by the Frauds Bureau and the State Police resulted in the arrest of a Colonie, NY, resident accused of collecting workers' compensation benefits under false pretenses. Evidence revealed that the suspect collected $14,000 from AIG Insurance Company following an injury sustained on the job. At the same time, investigators allege, he was fully employed and doing work not consistent with his injuries.
Arrested on 8/16/07
Charged with offering a false instrument for filing in the 2nd degree, making a false sworn statement in the 2nd degree, falsely reporting an incident in the 3rd degree, attempted petit larceny, attempted grand larceny in the 3rd and 4th degrees and insurance fraud in the 3rd, 4th and 5th degrees
An investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the FDNY led to the arrest of a Brooklyn woman accused of arranging to have her car destroyed by fire in order to collect the insurance payment. She reported to the NYPD that she last saw her 2007 Toyota on 3/7/07 at 10 p.m. and to GEICO that she had seen it on 3/6/07 at 5 p.m. However, the FDNY found the car burning before either of those dates and times. The fire was deemed incendiary.
- WHERE'S THE LUGGAGE?
Arrested on 8/14/07
Charged with insurance fraud in the 5th degree and petit larceny
The defendant in this case had his luggage either lost or stolen from the US Airways terminal at the Rochester International airport. On 10/27/06, he filed a claim with New York Central Mutual Insurance Company for the loss. In addition, he reported the loss to the airport authorities and received payment from both the insurer and the airlines. An investigation by the Frauds Bureau led to his arrest.
- FRAUDULENT REPAIR BILL
Arrested on 8/7/07
Charged with insurance fraud in the 4th degree and falsifying business records in the 1st degree
This suspect submitted a claim to Mid-Hudson Insurance Cooperative for damage to his roof. In support of the claim, he included a $1,200 bill for repair of the damage. However, an investigation by the Frauds Bureau revealed that the repairs appeared to have cost far less than the amount specified and the bill was in fact fraudulent.
- NONEXISTENT INJURIES
Arrested on 8/7/07
Charged with insurance fraud and falsifying business records
The defendant in this case, while acting in concert with another person not yet apprehended, submitted an allegedly fraudulent accident report to a medical facility where he received treatment that was subsequently paid for by his insurer. However, following an investigation conducted jointly by the Frauds Bureau and the NYPD's Fraudulent Accident Investigation Squad, the defendant told the arresting officer that he was not injured in the auto accident and had received treatment for nonexistent injuries.
- FORGED CHECKS
Arrested on 8/2/07
Charged with forgery in the 2nd degree, grand larceny in the 4th degree and petit larceny
An investigation by the Frauds Bureau, the City of Tonawanda Police Department and Liberty Mutual Insurance Company's SIU resulted in the arrest of a man who was charged with forging his wife's name to two checks in the amounts of $1,985 and $957 issued by Liberty Mutual in response to claims submitted by the wife. It was she who made the report to the Tonawanda PD that initiated the investigation.
- "STOLEN" CAR RECOVERED
Arrested on 7/30/07
Chargedwith insurance fraud in the 3rd degree and grand larceny in the 3rd degree
A Rochester woman was arrested for allegedly conspiring with her boyfriend to falsely report to the Rochester Police Department that their 1997 BMW had been stolen in June 2006. She submitted a claim to Progressive Insurance Company and received $9,315 for the loss. However, acting on a tip, investigators from the Frauds Bureau and the Rochester Police Department's Auto Theft Unit recovered the "stolen" car in the garage of a family member who was unaware that it had been reported stolen. The family member was storing it for the boyfriend while he was incarcerated in a federal prison on unrelated charges. He was arrested upon his release from prison on 7/20/07.
- NO COVERAGE
Arrested in 7/07
Chargedwith insurance fraud and grand larceny
An insurance broker was charged with collecting $7,000 in insurance premiums and failing to forward the money to an insurance company. As many as 32 people in Saratoga, Warren and Washington Counties were victimized by the fraud. The investigation was initiated when customers began contacting the insurance agency at which the defendant was employed complaining that their policies were being cancelled and in some cases their drivers' licenses were being suspended. One customer's car was impounded when police found that it was uninsured. The Insurance Department is now working to see if there are any more victims of this unscrupulous broker.
- FICTITIOUS COMPANY
Arrested in 7/07
Chargedwith felony mail fraud
An investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the U.S. Postal Inspector's Office resulted in the arrest of a former insurance agent on charges that he ran a phony insurance scheme that victimized 240 people. His arrest stems from an investigation initiated in 2003 when the Department was contacted by a Dutchess County woman, who incurred $50,000 in medical expenses resulting from complications during a pregnancy. She told the Department's Consumer Services Bureau she was unable to have the expenses paid through the insurance she purchased from the suspect in this case. She was subsequently forced to file for bankruptcy. At the same time, MVP Health Care, a health maintenance organization in Schenectady, reported suspected irregularities in numerous applications it had received from the suspect. Investigators found that applications from four different individuals contained the same handwriting and that suspicious alterations appeared to have been made on some applications. In addition, a large number of applicants were identified as "management" employees for the same organization, Professional Employees Management Corporation (PEMC), a company later determined to be fictitious. The suspect solicited business from retirees, small business owners and others on the basis that they could obtain less costly insurance through the small group plan he purportedly operated. However, a review of the suspect's records revealed that his customers were actually paying more than they would have paid through other insurance plans and that they were overcharged by a total of $76,747. In addition, the suspect was charging customers a $12 monthly union fee. These customers were not members of a union nor was the money turned over to any union. While some people who purchased insurance did received coverage for their medical expenses, the suspect failed to forward $60,645 in premiums to MVP Health Care. Moreover, he collected $13,232 in unauthorized fees. The Insurance Department revoked his agent's license in June 2005.
- INTENTIONAL DAMAGE
Arrested on 6/4/07
Chargedwith insurance fraud
An upstate man was arrested after collecting $3,580 on a fraudulent homeowners insurance claim. The charge was filed after an eyewitness reported to the Insurance Department that he saw the defendant intentionally damage the roof of his house, allegedly for the insurance payout. He also faces charge of identity theft and forgery for an unrelated incident. He is currently under the supervision of probation authorities pending further court action.