Monday, July 7, 2008

Pair Arrested in Pennsylvania Auto Fraud Scheme

Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett announced that a Philadelphia man and a New Castle, Del., man were arrested after their plan to collect insurance money for a stolen 2005 Ford Explorer went awry when the vehicle's LoJack Stolen Vehicle Recovery System was activated and led officers to its location.

Corbett identified the defendants as Joseph Schmidt, 23, of Philadelphia, and Deon Joseph, 35, 50, of New Castle, Del.

Corbett said that Schmidt owed Joseph $500, and the two men allegedly came up with a plan to hide Schmidt's Explorer and report it stolen so that Schmidt could collect the insurance money and use some of it to pay his debt to Joseph.

The investigation revealed that on Jan. 28, 2008, Schmidt reported his vehicle stolen to both the Philadelphia Police Department and his insurance company, Travelers' Insurance. The insurance claim was for about $14,000.

Corbett said that once the vehicle identification number (VIN) was entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) system, which is routinely used by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in the country, the Explorer's LoJack beacon was activated.

The routine VIN search in the NCIC system triggers the activation of the LoJack unit in the vehicle, which then emits a radio signal and allows law enforcement authorities to locate the vehicle.

According to court documents, Schmidt's Explorer was recovered from Joseph's garage on Jan. 29 by the New Castle Police Department.

Both defendants are charged with two counts of insurance fraud, one count of criminal attempt theft by deception, one count of criminal conspiracy, which are all felonies, and one count of false reports to law enforcement, a misdemeanor.

Both of the defendants were preliminarily arraigned before Berks County Magisterial District Judge Timothy Dougherty and released on $25,000 unsecured bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 28.

No comments: