Allstate New Jersey Fraud Suit Alleges Elizabeth-based Staged Accident Ring Is Responsible for Scores of Phony Accidents

Apr 04, 2001, 01:00 ET from Allstate New Jersey Insurance Company

    BRIDGEWATER, N.J., April 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Allstate New Jersey Insurance
 Company filed a civil suit today in Morris County Superior Court against
 10 defendants alleging violations of the New Jersey Fraud Prevention Act and
 the New Jersey Civil RICO Statute, in connection with an Elizabeth-based
 staged accident ring.  In an operation that can only be described as a family
 affair, Ms. Rocio Barba (a/k/a Rocio Meyer, a/k/a Rocio Pilar) is identified
 in the lawsuit as a key player in the fraud ring with several of her family
 members also being named as defendants in a complex fraud scheme.
     Other named defendants include Mercedes Antonio Villanueva, Barba's
 common-law husband; Jose Barba, Ms. Barba's brother; husband and wife Carlos
 and Zoila Peralta; and William Barba, another sibling of Ms. Barba.
     Richard Crist, Jr., President, Allstate New Jersey, said, "This case
 reminds all New Jersey drivers that the fight to rid the system of insurance
 fraud continues daily."  He added, "New Jersey's strong anti-fraud laws and
 the hard work of the New Jersey Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor (OIFP)
 and Department of Banking and Insurance serve as important weapons in the
 ongoing fight to put insurance cheats -- big and small -- behind bars."
     The defendants are accused of staging 29 accidents in Elizabeth and Perth
 Amboy, and filing 37 claims for Personal Injury Protection (PIP), Bodily
 Injury (BI) and vehicle losses.  In total, the defendants filed over
 $2 million in PIP and BI claims.  The lawsuit seeks to prevent the payment of
 the alleged fraudulent claims.
     While most fraud rings are tripped up by the pattern of evidence they
 leave behind, the lawsuit contends that the Barba ring was able to mask their
 fraud by staging accidents with vehicles they had stolen, as well as reporting
 hit-and-run accidents with New Jersey Transit buses.  However, patterns did
 eventually emerge, such as common addresses, similar accident details and
 multiple fake identities.  Allstate New Jersey has obtained ring member
 confessions that will support its allegation of fraud.
     Allstate New Jersey also seeks to stay any arbitration, as well as recoup
 any payments pending or already made to the defendants in PIP arbitration
 proceedings.  As such, the company has named the American Arbitration
 Association (AAA) as a "defendant in interest" in the complaint.
     Edward J. Moran, assistant vice president for Allstate Insurance Company's
 Special Investigative Unit, said that this is the first Elizabeth-based fraud
 ring uncovered by Allstate New Jersey.  An Elizabeth address served as the
 staging ground for the phony accidents.
     "As part of the lawsuit, the Elizabeth Injury Center, the Accident
 Recovery Center and other chiropractic facilities owned by Karim and Anhuar
 Bandy have been named as interested parties," Moran noted.  Naming the Bandys
 as interested parties connects this ring to arrests made by the OIFP against
 several runners for Bandy-owned facilities.
     "This declaratory judgment binds together seemingly inconsequential events
 to produce a complicated picture of fraud," Moran explained.  "If you just get
 bits and pieces, it is difficult to see the connection between accidents.  But
 when the accidents are examined together, the evidence of overall fraud
 becomes overwhelming."
     He added, "Unfortunately, fraud impacts everyone's car insurance costs."
 According to the Insurance Council of New Jersey and other sources, fraud
 costs almost $300 per family in higher auto insurance premiums.
     Allstate New Jersey Insurance Company, headquartered in Bridgewater, NJ,
 was established in 1997 by the Allstate Insurance Company as a separate and
 distinct company to service the unique needs of consumers in the New Jersey
 insurance marketplace.  Allstate New Jersey is a major provider of auto, home
 and commercial insurance products.  The Allstate Financial Group provides life
 insurance, retirement and investment products and services through Allstate
 New Jersey agents.  Allstate New Jersey's many sales agents and experienced
 claim professionals are conveniently located throughout the Garden State.
 Allstate Insurance Company is no longer licensed, and does not write business,
 in New Jersey.
 
 

SOURCE Allstate New Jersey Insurance Company
    BRIDGEWATER, N.J., April 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Allstate New Jersey Insurance
 Company filed a civil suit today in Morris County Superior Court against
 10 defendants alleging violations of the New Jersey Fraud Prevention Act and
 the New Jersey Civil RICO Statute, in connection with an Elizabeth-based
 staged accident ring.  In an operation that can only be described as a family
 affair, Ms. Rocio Barba (a/k/a Rocio Meyer, a/k/a Rocio Pilar) is identified
 in the lawsuit as a key player in the fraud ring with several of her family
 members also being named as defendants in a complex fraud scheme.
     Other named defendants include Mercedes Antonio Villanueva, Barba's
 common-law husband; Jose Barba, Ms. Barba's brother; husband and wife Carlos
 and Zoila Peralta; and William Barba, another sibling of Ms. Barba.
     Richard Crist, Jr., President, Allstate New Jersey, said, "This case
 reminds all New Jersey drivers that the fight to rid the system of insurance
 fraud continues daily."  He added, "New Jersey's strong anti-fraud laws and
 the hard work of the New Jersey Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor (OIFP)
 and Department of Banking and Insurance serve as important weapons in the
 ongoing fight to put insurance cheats -- big and small -- behind bars."
     The defendants are accused of staging 29 accidents in Elizabeth and Perth
 Amboy, and filing 37 claims for Personal Injury Protection (PIP), Bodily
 Injury (BI) and vehicle losses.  In total, the defendants filed over
 $2 million in PIP and BI claims.  The lawsuit seeks to prevent the payment of
 the alleged fraudulent claims.
     While most fraud rings are tripped up by the pattern of evidence they
 leave behind, the lawsuit contends that the Barba ring was able to mask their
 fraud by staging accidents with vehicles they had stolen, as well as reporting
 hit-and-run accidents with New Jersey Transit buses.  However, patterns did
 eventually emerge, such as common addresses, similar accident details and
 multiple fake identities.  Allstate New Jersey has obtained ring member
 confessions that will support its allegation of fraud.
     Allstate New Jersey also seeks to stay any arbitration, as well as recoup
 any payments pending or already made to the defendants in PIP arbitration
 proceedings.  As such, the company has named the American Arbitration
 Association (AAA) as a "defendant in interest" in the complaint.
     Edward J. Moran, assistant vice president for Allstate Insurance Company's
 Special Investigative Unit, said that this is the first Elizabeth-based fraud
 ring uncovered by Allstate New Jersey.  An Elizabeth address served as the
 staging ground for the phony accidents.
     "As part of the lawsuit, the Elizabeth Injury Center, the Accident
 Recovery Center and other chiropractic facilities owned by Karim and Anhuar
 Bandy have been named as interested parties," Moran noted.  Naming the Bandys
 as interested parties connects this ring to arrests made by the OIFP against
 several runners for Bandy-owned facilities.
     "This declaratory judgment binds together seemingly inconsequential events
 to produce a complicated picture of fraud," Moran explained.  "If you just get
 bits and pieces, it is difficult to see the connection between accidents.  But
 when the accidents are examined together, the evidence of overall fraud
 becomes overwhelming."
     He added, "Unfortunately, fraud impacts everyone's car insurance costs."
 According to the Insurance Council of New Jersey and other sources, fraud
 costs almost $300 per family in higher auto insurance premiums.
     Allstate New Jersey Insurance Company, headquartered in Bridgewater, NJ,
 was established in 1997 by the Allstate Insurance Company as a separate and
 distinct company to service the unique needs of consumers in the New Jersey
 insurance marketplace.  Allstate New Jersey is a major provider of auto, home
 and commercial insurance products.  The Allstate Financial Group provides life
 insurance, retirement and investment products and services through Allstate
 New Jersey agents.  Allstate New Jersey's many sales agents and experienced
 claim professionals are conveniently located throughout the Garden State.
 Allstate Insurance Company is no longer licensed, and does not write business,
 in New Jersey.
 
 SOURCE  Allstate New Jersey Insurance Company