San Diego insurance fraud ring busted

Defendants accused of filing $200K of fake claims
Posted at 2:02 PM, Feb 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-02 17:02:11-05

SAN DIEGO - An insurance fraud ring that bilked companies out of $125,000 has been busted in San Diego.

San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones announced the takedown of the ring Thursday, after a two-year operation, called Operation Persistent, to uncover the fraudsters. 

Yesenia Perez, Darice Orozco, Oscar Vargas, Jesus Diego, Roberto Ramirez, Abel Ramirez, Maria Linares, Juan Augustin, and Francine Moreno were charged with a total of 34 felonies, including filing fraudulent auto claims.

Six of the defendants were arrested on Jan. 31, and police are searching for one other. Two other individuals received notices of the charges against them and that they must appear in court.

"When cheaters scam insurance companies, law abiding citizens end up footing the bill," District Attorney Dumanis said. "Our insurance fraud team did an excellent job collaborating with the California Department of Insurance and Highway Patrol to dismantle this crime ring."

The ring made fraudulent claims totaling about $200,000 and were able to bilk Allstate, Access, GEICO, Infinity, State Farm, Rental Insurance Services, Fred Loya, Nationwide, Alliance, Farmers, Nations, and Travelers out of $125,000.

The crimes were uncovered through an effort by the San Diego Automobile Insurance Task Force, which includes officers from the Department of Insurance, San Diego District Attorney's Office, and California Highway Patrol.

"Insurance fraud can directly impact the lives of law-abiding people and staged collisions have taken the lives of innocent people in our state," Jim Abele, Border Division Chief for the California Highway Patrol, said. "The California Highway Patrol is dedicated to reducing collisions, vehicle theft, and insurance fraud."

Linares and Augustin are scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 3, and Diego and Perez will be arraigned Feb. 7.
Abel Ramirez, Roberto Ramirez, Vargas and Orozco have already pleaded not guilty. Their next court date is Feb. 10.