DATE: July 29, 2015
CASE: Steven Thompson & Michelle Marks
PROSECUTOR: Deputy District Attorney Alan Hengel, Insurance Fraud Unit
District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert announced that on July 13, 2015, 28-year-old Steven Thompson pled no contest to felony insurance fraud and was sentenced to 364 days in the county jail and placed on five years formal probation. On July 29, 2015, 27-year-old Michelle Marks pled no contest to misdemeanor insurance fraud and was sentenced to 180 days in the county jail and placed on three years formal probation. Both defendants were sentenced by the Honorable Ben Davidian.
On March 4, 2014, a driver was traveling at a low speed and accidentally rear-ended a vehicle driven by Thompson. At the time of the collision, Thompson was the sole occupant in his vehicle. Two days later, Thompson and Marks filed a bodily injury claim with the other driver’s insurance company, Progressive Insurance. Their claim asserted Marks was in Thompson’s vehicle at the time of the collision and she was injured. Progressive Insurance denied Thompson’s and Marks’ bodily insurance claim after concluding Marks was not in Thompson’s vehicle at the time of the collision.
An investigation by the California Department of Insurance’s Urban Auto Task Force concluded Marks’ and Thompson’s insurance claim was fraudulent.
This case is a good example of a “stuffed passenger” insurance scam, in which people falsely claim to have been injured in a car accident when they were not in the car at the time of the accident, hoping to cash in on an insurance payout.
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