Each of the six defendants was charged by a state grand jury with one count of third-degree insurance fraud for allegedly submitting claims for crashes that occurred before their policies were in effect.
With the exception of Annette and Nanette Smith, whose charges stem from the same incident, the defendants’ alleged crimes were not connected in any way. If convicted, each faces up to five years in prison and $15,000 in fines.
“Crash-and-buy schemes are one of the most common insurance fraud scams in the country. Like any auto fraud, these scams drive up insurance rates for honest policy holders,” said Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Ronald Chillemi. “Drivers tempted to commit this kind of illegal chicanery after a crash should think about the serious criminal penalties they’ll face.”
According to the indictments, each of the vehicles was involved in an accident and at some point after the accidents the defendants purchased auto insurance. Within days or months of obtaining insurance, the defendants allegedly filed claims for those prior accidents. Kaur filed her claim with Government Employees Insurance Company (GEICO), while the remaining defendants filed their claims with Progressive Garden State Insurance Company.
Deputy Attorneys General Reid Caster and Michael Clore presented the cases to the grand jury. Deputy Attorney General Michael Locke and Detectives Ryan Kirsh, Matthew Armstrong, Cortney Lawrence, Janessa Jones, Suzanna Lopez, Kristi Procaccino, Megan Flanagan, and Little Wright coordinated the investigation. The Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor thanked the National Insurance Crime Bureau, Progressive Insurance and Geico Insurance for assisting with the investigations.
Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Chillemi noted that some important cases have started with anonymous tips. People who are concerned about insurance cheating and have information about a fraud can report it anonymously by calling the toll‑free hotline at 1‑877‑55‑FRAUD, or visiting the Web site at www.NJInsurancefraud.org. State regulations permit a reward to be paid to an eligible person who provides information that leads to an arrest, prosecution and conviction for insurance fraud.