New York State
Insurance Department


ISSUED: 4/26/2002

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SERIO WARNS CONSUMERS ABOUT ARIEL TRAVEL AUTO POLICIES AND ADVISES DRIVERS TO CHECK FOR BOGUS INSURANCE CARDS AND INVALID INSURANCE
Fraud Suspect Arrested, Preyed on Senior Citizens Who Thought They Were Purchasing Legitimate Coverage

          Superintendent Gregory V. Serio today announced the arrest of Luis Estrella, 51, of Brooklyn, New York, for insurance fraud for the fraudulent sale of bogus automobile insurance coverage and advised individuals who purchased insurance through Mr. Estrella or the Ariel Travel Agency to verify the policy’s validity by contacting the insurance carrier.

          "It is important if any consumers believe that they have a policy from Ariel Travel Agency or Luis Estrella to call the insurance company to verify that you policy is valid," Serio said. "If you have problems verifying this information contact the Department 212-480-6400 and we will assist you."

          It is alleged that Mr. Estrella, whose licensed to sell insurance was revoked in 1999, sold bogus auto insurance policies to individuals, several of whom were senior citizens in the Hispanic community near the Ariel Travel Agency in Brooklyn, NY. In addition, some of the consumers learned that their policies were not valid only after they were involved in motor vehicle accidents.

          Mr. Estrella was arraigned and released on his own recognizance. If convicted of these charges, he faces up to seven years in prison on each count. The arrest is the result of a joint investigation conducted by the Insurance Department’s Frauds Bureau and the New York Police Department.

          The following suggestions will help ensure that you get the insurance coverage you pay for:

          "The arrest of Mr. Estrella exemplifies the commitment of the Insurance Department and the New York Police Department in protecting New Yorkers from con artists like this who prey on innocent senior citizens," added Serio.

          If you discover that you have been issued a fraudulent insurance identification card, call the New York State Insurance Department Frauds Bureau and report it – 1-800-NYFRAUD. If you have insurance problems that are not fraud related, contact the Department’s Consumer Services Bureau at 1-800-342-3736.


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