More than two dozen people were charged in connection with one of Fresno’s largest wide-ranging insurance fraud schemes by detectives from the California Department of Insurance.
The suspects allegedly staged auto collisions to scam more than four insurance companies out of tens of thousands of dollars.
The agency identified Artur Ashotovich Grigoryan, 32, of Fresno as the ringleader of the scheme, in which 26 fraudulent insurance claims totaling more than $140,000 were submitted to insurers. Most of the other suspects are from Fresno.
Once the claims were paid, the suspects allegedly pocketed the money and did not repair the vehicles. Detectives from the Department of Insurance launched an investigation in conjunction with Fresno County district attorney investigators after they were tipped by insurers.
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California is ground zero for auto insurance fraud.
Dave Jones, insurance commissioner
According to the agency, evidence showed vehicles were intentionally damaged before claims were submitted. Some participants were recruited with promises of cash or offers to fix the damaged vehicles. The suspects were also accused of stealing identities to submit claims.
“California is ground zero for auto insurance fraud,” said Dave Jones, insurance commissioner, in a news release. “Insurance fraud costs insurers billions every year and those costs are all passed along to consumers through higher insurance premiums.”
As of Tuesday, 15 suspects, including Grigoryan, were arrested and booked into the Fresno County Jail.