Eleven uninsured people from Orange County were charged with insurance fraud for getting into car accidents and later filing insurance claims after the fact to collect the benefits.
They face a maximum sentence ranging from one year in jail for misdemeanors to five years in state prison for felony charges with enhancements, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
The arrests were part of Operation Crash and Buy, which was a statewide sting cracking down on fraudulent insurance claims from uninsured drivers. The operation was a collaboration between the Department of Insurance and 21 counties.
People get involved in a crash, sign up by phone moments later with an insurance carrier, and file a claim later that day saying the damage occurred after the policy went into effect. Investigators served warrants and made arrests in October.
In one example, Spencer Casey Sanford, 24, Huntington Beach, is charged with four felony counts of insurance fraud. At about 2 p.m. on Oct. 24, 2013, Sanford is accused of being an uninsured driver and being involved in a car crash. He is accused of purchasing an automobile insurance policy within 30 minutes after the crash. At about 7 p.m., Sanford is accused of filing a claim with his insurance company stating that the accident occurred at 3:30 p.m. He has a prior prison conviction for assault with a deadly weapon.
“Insurance fraud drives up premiums for law-abiding citizens and we must attack this problem from every angle,” stated O.C. District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said in a statement Wednesday. “The intent of obtaining insurance is to provide coverage for law-abiding citizens and should not be used as a means by uninsured drivers to escape their obligations.”
The traffic collisions the defendants were involved in were not intentional, but the drivers were uninsured at the time and it was fraudulent to claim they were insured, according to Chris Kim of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.