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LOS ANGELES

9 Arrested in Accident Fraud Case

Insurance: Suspects filed false auto crash claims, state officials say.

November 03, 2001|ERIC MALNIC | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Nine people were arrested in Los Angeles County on Friday in connection with a scheme to defraud insurance companies by staging phony automobile accidents, state officials said.

Mike Silva, a spokesman for the state Department of Insurance, said that after staging the accidents the suspects, assisted by a lawyer, filed false insurance claims that included fraudulent medical bills from two chiropractic clinics. The attorney and the clinics were not identified.

In one staged accident, an insurance company paid out claims totaling $25,000, Silva said.

Jose Luis Morales, 29, an alleged ringleader of the group, was arrested at his home in Glendale and ordered held on $1-million bail.

The others arrested were Anait Arakelyan, 44, of North Hollywood; Tagi Kakosimidi, 19, of Van Nuys; Yelena Kakosimidi, 41, of Van Nuys; Yadira Mendieta Paz, 21, of Los Angeles; Oganes Dzhivalegyan, 39, of Glendale; Elza Dzhivalegyan, 38, of Glendale; Masis Mirzan, 27, of Glendale; and Zulma Patricia Portillo, 24, of Los Angeles. Bail for them was set at $25,000.

Officials said arrest warrants were issued for five other suspects, who were not immediately apprehended.

The insurance-fraud ring had been under investigation for several months by a task force that included personnel from the Department of Insurance, the California Highway Patrol and the National Insurance Crime Bureau, Silva said.

He said that during the course of the investigation, task force agents infiltrated the ring.

According to the investigators, Morales and his cohorts recruited drivers willing to participate in the scheme. After damaging the drivers' cars, Morales provided them with "scripts" used in presenting false claims to insurance companies, the investigators said.

Silva said several of the participants were sent to the chiropractic clinics, where bills were prepared showing they had been treated for injuries that did not exist.

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