Fifty cars involved in Florida auto insurance fraud case

Two Florida residents have been identified among five arrested for an auto insurance scam involving the illegal sale and false insurance claims for 50 vehicles, according to the Miami Herald.

Two Florida residents have been identified among five arrested for an auto insurance scam involving the illegal sale and false insurance claims for 50 vehicles, according to the Miami Herald.

Fifty-one-year-old Teresa Penaranda was initially arrested by Hialeah police on charges of title fraud and misconduct in connection with the case in May, with 39-year-old Carlos Malpica following soon after as police uncovered the case and attempted to recover the cars.

According to the Herald, Penaranda obtained the vehicles by offering to take cars off the hands of people who had fallen behind in their payments. After receiving a fee, Penaranda would adjust the cars' Vehicle Identification Number VIN) and create fake documents and insurance cards for the cars before reselling them. Meanwhile, the people who had handed their cars to Penaranda would file false reports to their insurance provider claiming that the car had been stolen.

Malpica was subsequently arrested as a "person of interest" who is thought to have been involved in reselling the cars. Four people who purchased cars from the scam have been arrested as well.

The Herald added that 33 of the 50 vehicles were still missing and being searched for.

Car insurance fraud has been on the rise in recent months in all areas affected by the current recession. In addition to the thefts in Florida, the Winnipeg Sun recently reported that 24 people had been arrested in connection to more than $800,000 in false auto insurance claims. In January, Insurance Journal reported that the state of Hawaii had seen a 60 percent increase in auto insurance fraud convictions in 2008.

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Posted: August 19, 2009

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