News: 2010 Press Release
For Release: January 13, 2010
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Insurance Commissioner Poizner Announces Arrest of San Jose Man for Allegedly Ditching Car in Mexico, Reporting it Stolen, Filing False Insurance Claim
California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner today announced that Severiano Becerra, 48, of San Jose was arrested Jan. 12 in San Jose on suspicion of felony auto insurance fraud. If convicted, Becerra could face five years in prison. He is being held on $20,000 bail.
"Auto insurance fraud continues to cost residents of this state millions of dollars and rates continue to go up for drivers as we battle this crime," Commissioner Poizner said. "But it's a battle we will never back down from and those who commit these crimes will face justice."
A California Department of Insurance (CDI) Urban Auto Fraud Task Force investigation alleges that on Nov. 27, 2008, Becerra drove his Dodge Dakota pickup truck into Mexico and purposefully left the vehicle in that country and returned to San Jose. On Dec. 17, 2008, Becerra reported the vehicle as stolen to the San Jose Police Department. Becerra claimed the truck was stolen the same day from a shopping center parking lot in San Jose. Becerra then filed a claim with Infinity Insurance Co. after filing the police report.
Becerra signed and dated a stolen vehicle report taken by San Jose Police. Becerra also signed and dated an affidavit of vehicle theft that was notarized by Infinity Insurance. Both forms were signed under penalty of perjury. In both reports, Becerra allegedly lied about the circumstances of how his vehicle disappeared.
Infinity Insurance Co. became suspicious of the claim and asked CDI to start its own investigation. Becerra confessed when confronted with evidence that refuted his version of events and admitted he intentionally drove his Dodge Dakota into Mexico and left it there. Becerra also provided a written confession.
The Urban Organized Automobile Fraud Insurance Task Force is made up of investigators from CDI, the California Highway Patrol and the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.
Commissioner Poizner oversees 16 CDI Enforcement Branch regional offices throughout the state. Approximately 2,000 insurance fraud-related arrests have been made by the Department of Insurance's enforcement division since Commissioner Poizner took office in 2007 - more arrests than have been made during any other two year period, under any previous insurance commissioner.
Please visit the Department of Insurance Web site at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.HELP. Callers from out of state, please dial 213.897.8921. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.
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