San Diego : 3 Arrested in Car-Insurance Fraud Ring


Culminating a yearlong investigation, the California Highway Patrol has arrested three people in connection with an alleged car-insurance fraud operation that authorities say is among the largest uncovered recently in the San Diego area.

Authorities alleged that the ring has collected nearly $200,000 in insurance payments based on 18 fraudulent claims, said Gary Alfonzo, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol in San Diego.

On Thursday, patrol agents arrested three suspects at their homes in San Diego, CHP investigator Bill Blair said.


Arrest warrants are pending for two other suspects, authorities said. A sixth member of the alleged ring has agreed to turn herself in, Blair said. All are to be charged with insurance fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud, Alfonzo said.

Ring members allegedly staged accidents involving rental cars and their personal vehicles. Because the private cars were insured with several different companies, Blair said, the owners were able to collect over and over again for the same accident. They would also use the same cars repeatedly in the various schemes, Blair said.

“They used one car in six different claims,” Blair said.

The claims involved both damage to the vehicles and personal injury claims, Blair said.

The investigation began a year ago, Blair said, after he received information that one of the suspects, driving a Porsche, ran into a rental car driven by another suspect. Suspicions were triggered, Blair said, when it turned out that the Porsche was owned by the driver of the rental car.

Arrested at their homes on Thursday were Donald Van Williams, 29, Peter W. Daigle, 32, and Winderlin Keith Lemon, 29, all of San Diego. They were being held at County Jail on various bail totals.

Authorities said the alleged scheme was among the largest recent insurance-fraud cases in San Diego County.

In another significant case in July, Alfonzo said, three people were arrested and charged with collecting some $200,000 in bogus insurance claims.


The highway patrol’s border division, which covers San Diego, Orange and Imperial counties and part of Riverside County, has conducted 307 investigations this year into suspicious claims totaling more than $400,000, Alfonzo said.

Each year, Alfonzo said, authorities estimate that about $400 million in fraudulent auto-insurance claims are filed in California. Such losses are made up by increased premiums for all motorists, perhaps accounting for up to one-third of each insurance premium payment statewide.