NY car insurance fraud ring busted, nine charged

Group allegedly staged car accidents and purposefully smashed vehicles to file fraudulent claims

NY car insurance fraud ring busted, nine charged

Insurance News

By Lyle Adriano

A dozen individuals were indicted for their alleged roles in a sophisticated auto insurance fraud ring in New York.

A two-year investigation called “Operation Sledgehammer” led to charges against nine people and five body shop businesses in Westchester County and the north Bronx. Authorities said that the defendants were part of a fraud ring called Jawahir Enterprise.

New York Daily News reported that defendants Rangee Jawahir, Georgette Sloley, Joseph Cermele and Wayne Scott were arraigned on grand larceny, insurance fraud, and other charges in New Rochelle City Court. Ronnie Lee-Andros Jawahir, Ronald Jawahir, Danesh Singh, Andrew Arjune and Allan Ramdeo Ramiah were also arraigned for similar charges.

Authorities added that three more people were arrested and charged separately in connection to the scheme – Latoya Shonta Turner, Reiluis Medina and Andrea Thompson.

Prosecutors said that between May 2019 and March 2020, members of the fraud ring took in damaged cars through body shops and intentionally made the damage worse. The additional damage was sometimes made with their owners’ knowledge, and sometimes without, the prosecutors noted.

Video evidence from the Westchester County district attorney’s office depicted several individuals hitting the side of one vehicle inside a fenced-off parking area.

In some of the incidents, the fraud ring staged car accidents involving two or more vehicles – as long as one of the car owners had insurance, authorities said. Court papers also said that the alleged conspirators used sledgehammers to make it look like a car was damaged by another vehicle – but in some cases, the fraudsters did nothing to the vehicle, but filed an insurance claim anyway.

Participants in the fraud ring included body shop owners and their employees, nonoperational body shop owners, car owners who received a cut of the fraudulent payouts, and individuals who posed as owners of the vehicles to call insurance companies for a claim. In addition, the scheme also involved people who laundered the payouts, as well as other individuals whose task was to locate new people to recruit into the fraud ring.

“When false claims are made and money is stolen from insurance companies, it forces all of our insurance rates to increase and costs each of us hard-earned money,” said Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino in a statement.

All of the defendants were released without bail, and are due to return to court in January, New York Daily News said.

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