RANCHO CUCAMONGA – A Rancho Cucamonga business owner was sentenced to six years in prison on Thursday for an auto insurance fraud odometer-rollback scheme.
Hani Abujudeh, 55, the owner of Perfect Auto Detailers, admitted his involvement in the scheme by manipulating used car odometers and vehicle titles to make vehicles appearing to be more valuable. Abujudeh then used false identities to sell vehicles on Craigslist and the AutoTrader.
In addition to the prison time, Abujudeh was required to pay the court the full victim restitution, in the amount of $189,475.22. The 15 victims and 4 insurance companies appeared in court in order to receive their restitution checks. Abujudeh pleaded guilty to seven felony counts; including Auto Insurance Fraud, Money Laundering, Perjury, False Impersonation and Grand Theft. One of the victims was actually sold a vehicle that was owned by someone else.
The scam came to light when investigators with the California Department of Insurance (CDI) began looking into numerous potentially false claims associated with Abujudeh’s business. “The schemes started unraveling when vigilant insurance investigators began noticing an unusual number of questionable insurance claims from the ‘Perfect Auto Detailers’ auto body repair shops in Rancho Cucamonga which the defendant owned,” said Deputy District Attorney Karen Parker-Parent. Investigators were able to connect the cases with several reports they had of identity theft and sales fraud; where they either bought or sold from a man who gave them a false identity.
The investigation led to the finding of 25 fake drivers licenses as well as evidence of the fraudulent insurance claims and vehicle sales. A paper trail of all the title transfers helped authorities to unravel the scheme involving Abujudeh and his co-defendants, Eduardo Hernandez, 27 of Rancho Cucamonga, Francisco Aguilera, 26, of Santa Paula, and Dane Santibanez, 29, of Rancho Cucamonga.
“This prosecution is a prime example of how much can be accomplished when our law enforcement agencies network their information and resources,” Parker-Parent said. “Because Mr. Abujudeh used so many different identities in the many various auto insurance fraud schemes he committed, it would’ve been difficult for any one agency alone to identify the perpetrator.”
Eduardo Hernandez, 27, of Rancho Cucamonga, pleaded no contest to Insurance Fraud and was sentenced to 365 days in County Jail.
Francisco Aguilera, 26, of Santa Paula, Calif., is charged with Defrauding an Insurer – PC 548(a), Insurance Fraud – PC 550(a)(1), and False and Fraudulent Claim – PC 549.
Dane Santibanez, 29, of Rancho Cucamonga, is charged with Defrauding an Insurer – PC 548(a) and Insurance Fraud – PC 550(a)(1).
“California is ground zero for auto insurance fraud, which paid for by consumers when insurers pass along their fraud losses through higher premium,” said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. “Thanks to the hard work of our investigators at the Department of Insurance, our task force partners, and the San Bernardino District Attorney’s office, Abujudeh’s crimes were exposed and he was successfully prosecuted.”
Aguilera and Santibanez are both scheduled to appear in Rancho Cucamonga Superior Court Nov. 7.For late-breaking news, follow 24/7 Headline News on our Los Angeles County Facebook group, Riverside County Facebook group, Coachella Valley News group, US News group, Victor Valley/Inland Empire Facebook group. If you like what we are doing and want regular updates on your facebook stream like our Facebook Fan Page. You may also follow 24/7 Headline News on Twitter and Instagram!
This article was written by a staff member of the 24/7 Headline News Organization
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