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18 arrested in Bay Area insurance fraud ring accused of staging accidents

SANTA CLARA COUNTY (KRON) -- Eighteen of 22 suspects have been arrested in connection with an insurance fraud ring accused of staging crashes to gain over $200,000, according to the California Department of Insurance.

Brothers Angel Topete, 36, and Joshua Topete, 34, both of San Martin, were arrested on several felony charges for allegedly running an organized auto insurance fraud scam.

The brothers are accused of using the ring to stage 18 fake accidents, netting $210,000 in fraudulent auto insurance claims.

A total of 18 people were arrested, including the Topete brothers.

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones released the following statement on the arrests:

"This large ring of family and friends allegedly conspired to defraud insurers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "The cost of insurance fraud is shouldered by consumers who pay higher premiums when insurers pass along their losses. Working with our task force partners is critical in combating the multi-billion dollar problem of insurance fraud."

Silicon Valley Automobile Insurance Fraud Task Force investigators first heard about the crime ring in 2015, Jones said.

"The two-year investigation revealed the Topete brothers conspired with family, friends and associates who posed as insurance consumers and filed fraudulent claims with six different insurers for collisions that were either staged or never occurred at all," James said.

Investigators found that many of the claims involved salvaged cars, new insurance policies, and variations of a name used on other similar claims.

Court appearances for several of the suspects begin this week.

*Not pictured: Pedro Calderon, Samuel Osuna

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