​For release on July 16, 2015  CONTACT: Charlotte Chang, Deputy District Attorney Insurance Fraud Unit (408) 792-2974   SOUTH BAY STAGED CAR CRASH SCAM RING BUSTED – 33 SUSPECTS CHARGED   Thirty-three suspects, most of them from San Jose, were charged this week for their part in an alleged ring that intentionally crashed older cars into each other and then collected insurance money. The staged collision scam resulted in insurance pay outs of about $500,000.   The arrests came as the result of the three-year, multi-agency “Coffee Break” investigation.  Suspects often claimed they accidentally spilled coffee on themselves, which caused them to lose control of their cars and crash. Charged with felony insurance fraud, the defendants face prison time, if convicted. Arraignments will begin today at 1:30 p.m.   Santa Clara prosecutor Charlotte Chang said, “Each false insurance claim paid out by insurance companies adds up to a large sum, eventually passed along to every policyholder through higher insurance premiums.”   This case was investigated by the Organized Auto Insurance Fraud Task Force with detectives from the California Department of Insurance, California Highway Patrol, and the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.  The scam was uncovered after a CHP investigator noticed that numerous auto crash claims seemed to have a pattern of similarities. An investigation revealed multiple crash claims from 2010 to 2012 - almost all in Santa Clara County - were made by the suspects, often with insurance policies that were bought shortly before the alleged accidents. A number of suspects filed multiple claims using different fictitious names or aliases.   “California is ground zero for staged auto collisions, which costs the insurance industry billions in losses every year," Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said.  "Consumers pay for these crimes when insurers pass along the losses."   With some variation, the alleged scam involved a suspect purchasing an auctioned or salvaged vehicle, or recruiting someone with a car on which they were making payments. The suspect would intentionally crash the car into one to two other vehicles, owned by co-conspirators. The owners of the vehicles would contact the insurance company and claim the loss. In most cases, the vehicles were written off as totaled by the insurance companies. They would pay the owners or lienholders the full value for  their cars. Some of the vehicles were used in the scheme numerous times, getting wrecked, repaired and wrecked again.     List of in-custody suspects as of July 15, 2015.

Name Age City of Residence
Sergio Diaz Landa 46 Stockton
Jorge Salazar 53 San Jose
Vicent Dominguez Ojeda 32 San Jose
Jose Santos Salzar 52 San Jose
Ramon Lujano Arreguin 63 San Jose
Oscar Diaz Landa 45 San Jose
Maria Barragan Corral 34 Gilroy
Irma Rodriguez 34 San Jose
Eduardo Ayon 37 San Jose
Oscar Escobar 37 San Jose
Rodolfo Guillen Alvizar 31 Unknown
Santos Escobar Alvarado 35 Redwood City
Beatriz Chavez 34 San Jose
Rene Partida Delgadillo 45 San Jose

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