Twenty-five Defendants In Two Fraud Rings Allegedly Bilked Insurance Companies Of $200,000
Attorney General Spitzer and State Insurance Superintendent Gregory Serio today announced the filing of charges against 25 people who operated two separate automobile insurance fraud rings that operated in New York City. Among the charges the defendants face are grand larceny, conspiracy, insurance fraud, and falsifying business records.
The defendants in the first ring are alleged to have caused actual accidents to occur and sought treatment for feigned injuries. The second ring allegedly created phony accident reports and then sought and obtained treatment for their fake injuries. Together, over $425,000 in phony bills were submitted to insurance companies, of which over $200,000 was paid.
"With these arrests and indictments, the Auto Insurance Fraud Unit continues our effort to end fraud and the abuse of the no-fault insurance system," Spitzer said. "This abuse ultimately forces New Yorkers to pay higher insurance premiums."
"Fraud rings like these two victimize all of New York's drivers who end up paying the price through increased premiums. These indictments are proof positive that our on-going collaborative efforts with the Attorney General's Office and law enforcement throughout the state are protecting New York's hard working families and taking crooks off the street," Superintendent Serio said.
The first fraud ring, involving staged accidents that are alleged to have taken place in 2001, operated out of Brooklyn. In that case, 13 defendants were indicted by a Brooklyn grand jury for submitting 24 phony claims totalling over $300,000 to four insurance carriers under the state's no-fault insurance law for which the carriers paid out over $100,000.
In the second ring, 12 people were arrested for their role in a scheme based in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The defendants were listed in phony accident reports as passengers, drivers, and, in one case, a registered vehicle owner, as having been involved in five phony car accidents. The defendants are alleged to have claimed injuries and visited clinics, which submitted more than $125,000 in claims to insurance companies and of which $100,000 was paid out.
Among the defendants alleged to have participated in the first ring are:
- Nidal Jaber - As the principal orchestrator of the accidents, or "steerer", Jaber allegedly recruited individuals to be passengers in the staged accidents, directed how the phony accidents happened and directed vehicle occupants to specific clinics get treatment. It is also alleged he paid drivers to participate in the accidents.
- Magdi Farag - As the registered owner of two vehicles that were used in the accidents, he allegedly assisted in planning the accidents, and was a driver in four out of the six accidents charged. In one of the accidents in which Farag was the driver, his wife and three children were the passengers.
- Genc Marke - This defendant was allegedly involved in a staged accident in Staten Island. Marke claimed to be injured in a minor collision and sought treatment in Brooklyn. The insurance companies involved received bills for approximately four months of treatment.
- Abdelrahman Abuhamad and Hatem El-Ghannem - Abdelrahman Abuhamad allegedly used Farag's vehicle to strike the vehicle of an unsuspecting victim, causing slight damage to both vehicles. Abuhamad and El-Ghannem then allegedly filed phony insurance claims stating they had been injured in the accident.
- Nighat Kamran and Mirza Khan - Kamran and Khan are husband and wife. They allegedly conspired with Jaber and Farag to stage an accident. Just six days before the accident, Kamran purchased an insurance policy on her 1988 Pontiac, which had over 250,000 miles on it. Khan was a passenger in the vehicle during the accident.
- Sabeeh Alsaber - Alsaber was a passenger in a vehicle involved in a two-car accident allegedly orchestrated by Jaber. After the accident Alsaber sought medical attention and falsely claimed he had been injured in the accident.
The 124 counts of the six indictments charge Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree, Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, Attempted Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, Attempted Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, Attempted Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, Insurance Fraud in the Third Degree, Insurance Fraud in the Fourth Degree, Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, and Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree.
The defendants in the second ring are:
- Booker Best, listed as a passenger in a phony accident report.
- Jose Castillo, listed as a passenger in a phony accident report.
- Paulina Castillo, listed as a passenger in a phony accident report.
- Khalilah Cox, listed as a driver in a phony accident report.
- Lisa Febus, listed as a passenger in a phony accident report.
- Joseph Lugo, listed as a driver in a phony accident report.
- Nelson Marrero, Jr., listed as a registered vehicle owner in a phony accident report.
- Edwin Morales, listed as a passenger in a phony accident report.
- Portia Rice, listed as a passenger in a phony accident report.
- Luz Rivera, listed as a passenger in a phony accident report.
- Ted Rodriguez, listed as a passenger in a phony accident report.
- Xiomara Whittaker, listed as a passenger in a phony accident report.
The six felony complaints filed charge Insurance Fraud in the Third Degree, Insurance Fraud in the Fourth Degree, Insurance Fraud in the Fifth Degree, Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, and Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General John Balestriere and Brenda Hall of the Auto Insurance Fraud Unit, under the supervision of Unit Chief Steve Nachman. Investigators Lawrence McDonald, Daniel Pisculli, David Henry, Luke Johnson, and William Shea, and Analyst Denis Samuylin, under the direction of Deputy Chief James Conway of the Investigations Bureau, conducted the investigation.