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5 arrested for staging hit-and-run crash, making phony insurance claim in Ontario

5 arrested for staging crash, making fake insurance claim
5 arrested for staging crash, making fake insurance claim 01:09

Five people have been arrested after home surveillance video helped investigators determine that they had staged a hit-and-run crash in Ontario, using the incident to file a fake insurance claim. 

The investigation, which focused on an incident from September of 2021, revealed that the five defendants in the case had staged the crash at an Ontario intersection in hopes of collecting an unearned insurance payout worth more than $30,000. 

Investigators obtained surveillance footage from a nearby home, which shows one of the defendants leaving a vehicle in the middle of the intersection just moments before another of the defendants crashes into the vacant vehicle. Both are then seen fleeing from the scene on foot. 

Ontario Police Department officers were dispatched to the scene of the crash, locating a woman who claimed she was the victim of a hit-and-run driver. However, witnesses at the scene told investigators that she walked over to the two cars after the crash actually happened. 

A task force of investigators from the California Department of Insurance, California Highway Patrol, San Bernardino District Attorney's Office and the Riverside District Attorney's Office were able to find that the incident was staged. 

They arrested 29-year-old Fontana resident Priscilla Carmona Arajo, 52-year-old Rancho Cucamonga resident Gabriella Cervantes, 40-year-old Chino resident Roberto Carlos Macias and 32-year-old Ontario resident Humberto Ortiz  between Jan. 11 and Jan. 23 of 2024. Additionally, 25-year-old Upland resident Juan Barajas, another defendant, was already in custody at the Orange County Jail for an unrelated case. 

They all face felony counts of insurance fraud after they were investigated by the Inland Empire Automobile Insurance Fraud Task Force.

"In this case, no innocent drivers were victimized, but the Department always urges drivers who suspect they or someone they know are the victim of a staged collision to insist on a police report," said a statement from the California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. The statement also urged people to document as much information about a collision as possible, use available cell phones to document post-collision damage with photos and video, and ask officers to identify everyone involved.

Suspicious collisions can be reported to the California Department of Insurance at (800) 927-4357.

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