AG's Office: Pretending To Get Hit By A Car In New York Is Fairly Lucrative. It's Also Illegal
According to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the group of alleged crooks conned more than $400,000 out of several insurance companies in a scam that spanned nearly two years, from September 2009 to May 2011.
"This staged accident scheme put innocent lives in danger in order to make the perpetrators a quick buck - now they will be brought to justice," Schneiderman says. "Breaking up this criminal operation means safer streets, and a fairer market for consumers whose insurance premiums skyrocket as a result of fraud."
Authorities say the 16 suspects (who are listed below) used various methods to stage nine separate wrecks, including renting U-Haul trucks to crash into cabs, slapping the back of cars to make the driver think they hit someone, and even having two of those involved in the scheme crash cars into each other.
Because New York has what's known as the Comprehensive Motor Vehicle Insurance Reparations Act (the "No-Fault Law"), anyone in an automobile accident is automatically entitled to reimburse from insurance companies for a wide range of medical and health services for injuries related to car accidents -- under the law, an individual is entitled to up to $50,000 in reimbursements.
Additionally, the AG's Office says, a victim in a motor vehicle accident may be eligible to recover money from an insurance carrier for a bodily injury lawsuit stemming from injuries resulting from the accident.
Schneiderman says those involved in the scam lied to police about the staged accidents, claiming they were real. They also lied on insurance forms filled out after the faux-wrecks.
Some of the defendants, Schneiderman says, received money from legal settlements from the staged crashes.
The suspects each have been charged with various felonies for their alleged involvement in the scam, including insurance fraud, grand larceny and falsifying business records, as well as misdemeanor conspiracy to commit these crimes.
The suspects are as follows:
- Jemal Aigle, age 28, of Brooklyn, NY;
- Chantel Coke, age 25, of Brooklyn, NY;
- Joseph Free, age 24, of Brooklyn, NY;
- Elhajj Gonzales, age 37, of Brooklyn, NY;
- Mark Gooding, age 27, of Brooklyn, NY;
- Kenneth Hardy, age 29, of Brooklyn, NY;
- Kenroy John, age 23, of Brooklyn, NY;
- Darryl Johnson, age 23, of Brooklyn, NY;
- Clarence McCollum, age 46, of Brooklyn, NY;
- Kiran Newton, age 20, of Brooklyn, NY;
- Joan Vasquez, age 28, of Brooklyn, NY;
- Garry Walls, age 27 of Brooklyn, NY;
- Karon Washington, age 22, of Brooklyn, NY;
- Nyiesha Washington, age 29, of Brooklyn, NY;
- Tanisha Wheeler, age 38, of Brooklyn, NY; and
- Cedric White, age 23, of Brooklyn, NY.