Auto Insurance Fraud

Yolo County District Attorney Jeff W. Reisig believes that every effort should be made to identify, investigate, and prosecute those persons who commit Automobile Insurance Fraud.

The impact on every household is felt, through higher premiums. The difference can mean a family having or not having the State mandated insurance to drive a motor vehicle. The act of committing insurance fraud unfairly impacts the insurance companies, and unjustly enriches the thieves that perpetrate these crimes.

An Auto Insurance Fraud crime scene.

An Auto Insurance Fraud crime scene.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, approximately ten percent or more of the property casualty insurance claims are fraudulent. These claims result in an additional $300 in premium paid by the consumer for each household. Insurance Fraud is second highest white collar crime committed in the United States. Persons committing these crimes could be your neighbor, doctor, auto body shop, or Attorney.

Anyone who has a vested interest in the outcome of an insurance claim, can commit insurance fraud.

Claimants - Run into problems with the law when they ask for greater benefits than they are entitled. This includes misrepresenting the extent of loss or the circumstances surrounding the loss that could effect the extent of coverage.

Insurance Companies are required by law to refer to the California Department of Insurance, all claims they suspect may be fraudulent. The Yolo County District Attorney’s Office then receives referrals from the Department Insurance for investigation and criminal prosecution when appropriate.

Examples - Typical fraud referrals involve the reporting of a vehicle being stolen when it wasn’t, with intent of causing a total loss and thereby getting out from underneath a loan payment that the owner can no longer afford. Or to surgically strip the vehicle, claim the loss of tires, rims, seats, and or stereos, file a theft claim, with intent to be compensated for a loss that never occurred.

Who should you call? When referring a concern to the District Attorney’s Office, you can call:

Investigator Kristine Fitzgerald at 530-666-8317.

Citizens may remain anonymous, but keep in mind, the investigation process is more expeditious when we can verify the reliability of the person making the complaint and how it is they know what they know.

301 Second Street | Woodland, CA 95695 | 530-666-8380 Phone | 530-666-8423 Fax

Check Prosecution Unit

Yolo County merchants lose millions of dollars because of non-sufficient fund/closed account checks. Consumers share in these losses through higher prices. The District Attorney’s Check Prosecution Unit tracks down the bad check writers, at no cost to the victim for using the program, returns the money to the victim/merchant and deters future offenses through a diversion program and possible criminal prosecution.

This program is designed to help protect and seek justice for our communities by removing some of the investigation burden from local law enforcement agencies and providing new methods of obtaining restitution for victims while also educating offenders. Full restitution is forwarded to the submitting merchants/victims and NO FEES are charged to you for our services.

Why It Works 

The Check Prosecution Program works because:

* Bad check reports are easy to file and and we strive to follow-up as promptly as possible.
* Upon recovery, 100 percent of the face value of the check is returned to the merchants.
* There is no minimum dollar restriction.
* Payment is mandatory and bad check offenders can opt to complete a 12 hour educational class at their expense.
* All work is done here in Yolo County.

We look forward to working with you and your staff for the benefit of our community.
About Us

In 2006 the Yolo County District Attorney Check Prosecution Unit returned over $300,000 in restitution to victims of bad check writers! Also, in 2006 the Check Prosecution Unit issued 78 felony warrants and 30 misdemeanor warrants.

In the State of California, writing a NSF (non-sufficient fund) or account closed check, with the intent to defraud, is a crime by the authority of California Penal Code Section 476a(a). The state legislature, however, allows for a Diversion Program at the County District Attorney level. The District Attorney has the discretion to implement and operate the Diversion Program, which allows an alternative to criminal prosecution, if the bad check writer meets certain criteria, and agrees to full restitution, payment of all administrative fees, attendance at a diversion class, and ceases to write bad checks.

Filing a Report
Make personal contact with the check writer and if you are unsuccessful, send a courtesy notice. The check writer has 10 days to respond and remit payment.

If you do not hear from the check writer or receive payment, simply contact the Check Prosecution Unit at 530-666-8200 or download the Bad Check Report Form.

Fill out the Bad Check Report Form, attach originals (you retain photocopies) of all the checks and notification documents, such as return receipts and bank notices, and:

Mail to: Yolo County District Attorney or Bring to:

Yolo County District Attorney
Check Prosecution Unit
PO Box 1404
Woodland, CA 95776
Check Prosecution Unit
301 Second Street
Woodland, CA 95695

You Must Attach The Original Check(s), before you submit your form to the Check Prosecution Unit.

Once your complaint has been filed, the Check Prosecution Unit must recover all payments. If the check writer contacts you to make a payment, please refer him or her to the District Attorney Check Prosecution Unit for payment. If the check writer makes payment to the Check Prosecution Unit, you will receive a restitution check within 4-6 weeks.
Tips For Accepting Checks

The best way to reduce your losses is to avoid taking bad checks from the start. The following tips are suggestions to help you establish good procedures for accepting checks.
Institute a Check Acceptance Policy:

A clearly posted checks acceptance policy for your employees and customers can go a long way toward reducing your losses. Policies should state which types of checks can and cannot be accepted and include the consequences to bad check writers.
Confirm the Identity of the Check Writer:

All ID can be forged. The most reliable form of ID is that which contains a photo and a physical description. Ask for the ID and write the ID number, birth date, address and other descriptive data on the front of the check. Ask Questions. If the ID does not belong to the person writing the check, they may be thrown off guard.
The Signature Should be Legible and Signed in the Presence of the Individual Accepting the Check:

DO NOT accept previously signed checks. For a company check, it is vital that the signature is legible. If not, print the individual’s name on the front of the check.
The Complete Address Should be Imprinted on the Check:

Require a street address, in addition to a PO Box number. Obtain a phone number as well.

Accept Checks Only Written With Today’s Date:

Pre or postdated checks cannot typically be prosecuted. This restricts any recourse you may have against the check writer if your own collection attempts fail.

Make Sure Written Amounts and Numbers Correspond:

Banks will not honor checks with discrepancies between written amounts and numbers.

Avoid Accepting Checks Drawn on an Out-of-State Bank.

Remember...you are not required to accept a check from anyone. If you feel uncomfortable or suspicious, trust your intuition! Ask for another form of payment.

Read Every Check Carefully for the Following Eight Points: 

check

1. Must be Personalized - Complete name and address preprinted by the bank.
2. Date must be current - Never post dated or more than 30 days old.
3. Check the Bank ID#
4. Payee must be your company.
5. Amounts written and numerical must be the same.
6. Bank name and address must be printed on the check.
7. Bank and customer computer numbers must be printed on check.
8. Customer signature - Must be signed in your presence.

Links

FAQs

Courtesy Notice

Warning Sign (English)

Señales de alerta (En Español)

Bad Check Complaint Form

Contact Us

Office Location 

301 Second Street
Woodland, CA 95695
Phone: 530-666-8200
Fax: 530-666-8185

Mailing Address

Yolo County District Attorney’s Office
Check Prosecution Unit
PO Box 1404
Woodland, CA 95776

Consumer Fraud/Environmental Protection Unit

Consumer Fraud Unit investigating case at landfill.

Consumer Fraud Unit investigating case at landfill.

Welcome to the Consumer Fraud/Environmental Protection Division (CFEPD) of the Yolo County District Attorney's Office. The CFEPD protects consumers and honest businesses from unfair business practices, ranging from deceptive sales pitches to false advertising by national corporations. It also serves to protect the environment and consequently, the health and safety of Yolo County's citizens. Consumer fraud is a preventable crime. By learning about current scams and rip-offs in the marketplace and by following basic tips on smart consumer behavior, you can protect yourself and help us protect all of the consumers of Yolo County. Environmental crimes are serious crimes and need to be reported, investigated and prosecuted. Citizens can be instrumental in helping the CFEPD meet this goal.

Environmental Fraud Unit removing an old gas pipe.

Environmental Fraud Removing an old gas pipe.

Yolo DA’s Consumer Fraud and Environmental Protection Division (CFEPD) leaves a large footprint.  Enforcement Officer Heidi D’Agostino was recently elected president of the California Hazardous Materials Investigators Association (CHMIA).  David Irey was recently appointed Assistant Chief Deputy District Attorney over Yolo DA’s CFEPD.  Irey spent over 25 years prosecuting environmental crimes at the San Joaquin District Attorney’s Office and has been the lead on numerous statewide environmental cases prosecuted by multiple DAs’ offices.

Speakers on consumer problems are available to groups from the District Attorney's Office. Call Jonathan Raven or Larry Barlly at 530-666-8180

Specific Consumer Problems may be addressed at the following locations:

Click on a Link to go Directly to the Specific Resource (Use the browser back button to return to this menu).  Disclaimer Regarding Links

Additional Resource Links

Life Insurance/Annuities Fraud

California Department of Insurance Video: Annuities - It's Your Choice

Fraud Forum Information

December, 2012 Newsletter

June, 2012 Newsletter

December, 2011 Newsletter

Form to Report Insurance Fraud

Yolo County District Attorney Jeff W. Reisig believes that every effort should be made to identify, investigate, and prosecute those persons who commit Insurance Fraud.

What Is Life Insurance?

It is a form of insurance that pays a beneficiary in the event of the death of the insured person. When a policy is purchased, a specific death benefit is chosen.

Life insurance is a contract between the policy owner and the insurance company:

  • the policy owner (or policy payer) agrees to pay a defined amount called a premium.
  • the insurance company agrees to pay a sum of money upon the death of the insured person.
  • the beneficiary – the person or persons named by the policy owner – will receive policy proceeds (benefit) upon the death of the insured person.

What Is a Variable Annuity?

A variable annuity is a contract between you and an insurance company, under which the insurer agrees to make periodic payments to you, beginning either immediately or at some future date. You purchase a variable annuity contract by making either a single purchase payment or a series of purchase payments.

For more information about annuities, go to the Securities & Exchange Commission web site at:  http://www.sec.gov/investor/pubs/varannty.htm

Free Lunch

Be cautious about these “free lunch seminars” Senior estate-planning seminars aren't new. But they're drawing more regulatory scrutiny because they're increasing in areas with large elderly populations. Typically, the people who attend them need advice about leaving assets to their children, managing income or minimizing taxes in retirement.

Many annuities are complex insurance products whose returns vary with market performance.

Questions to ask:

  • Did the speaker talk about any of the following annuities? Yes No
  • Variable annuities? Yes No
  • Deferred annuities? Yes No
  • Equity-indexed annuities? Yes No
  • Immediate annuities? Yes No
  • Did the speaker discuss the risks associated with these products? Yes No
  • Did the speaker disclose the surrender charges and tax penalties if the annuities were cancelled early? Yes No
  • Were you encouraged to purchase an annuity? Yes No

No person may solicit a sale or order for the sale an annuity at the residence of a senior, in person or by telephone, by using any plan, scheme, or ruse that misrepresents the true status or mission of the contact.” ~ California Department of Insurance: What Seniors Need to Know About Annuities

Know What You Are Buying

Annuities FraudIf you are having trouble understanding all aspects of a proposed investment, seek advise from a trusted tax consultant or lawyer, or you can call the California Department of Insurance help line at 800-927-HELP  (4357)  If the salesman objects to you’re getting a consultation then you should walk away.  If you suspect you were lied to, call the Department of Insurance, or the District Attorney’s Office at 666-8180.

Remember: Variable annuities are designed to be long-term investments, to meet retirement and other long-range goals. Variable annuities are not suitable for meeting short-term goals because substantial taxes and insurance company charges may apply if you withdraw your money early. Variable annuities also involve investment risks, just as mutual funds do.

It is important not to confuse investment scams with bad investments.  A bad investment is nothing more than a poor choice.  An investment scam is a criminal act that was intentionally designed to deceive and manipulate you, the investor, through the use of false claims, lies and /or high pressure sales tactics.

Who should you call? When referring a concern to the District Attorney’s Office, you can call:

Please call the Fraud Hotline at 1-855-496-5632.

Citizens may remain anonymous, but keep in mind, the investigation process is more expeditious when we can verify the reliability of the person making the complaint and how it is they know what they know.

Read What Citizens Have to Say About Their Experience

The DA does a good job keeping us informed of scams to watch out for.

- Gary and Jean, Residents of Woodland, CA

Real Estate Fraud Unit

The Yolo County District Attorney’s Office is dedicated to the investigation and prosecution of real estate related crimes. Attacking real estate crimes and other white collar criminal activity is one of the high priorities contained within the White Collar Crime Unit. Criminal real estate crimes may involve home equity fraud, mortgage fraud, grand theft, title fraud, securities fraud, forgery, foreclosure fraud, loan fraud, rental scams and any other fraud scam which steals a homeowner’s dreams with a single forged signature or a get-rich quick scheme. In each of the preceding crimes, the unsuspecting victim can lose his or her life savings and his or her home, unless he or she promptly alerts the authorities.

If you believe you have been a victim of any type of real estate fraud occurring in Yolo County, you are encouraged to fill out and email or mail a Complaint Form for our review. (The form is available below.) 

Please click here to view our new Fraud Complaint Form

Real Estate Fraud Contact:
Paralegal Jen Boschken
530-666-8471
jennifer.boschken@yolocounty.org
301 Second Street Woodland, CA 95695

Important Contact/Resource Information

Yolo County Bar Association
California Department of Real Estate 877-373-4542
Contractors State Licensing Board 800-321-2752
California Department of Corporations 916-445-7205
Yolo County Assessor’s Office 530-666-8135
Legal Services of Northern California 530-662-1065
Housing Economic Rights Advocates 510-278-8443
Federal Bureau of Investigation 916-481-9110
US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development “Avoiding Foreclosure”
CalHFA Mortgage Assistance Corporation – “Keep Your Home California”
State of California - Guide to Mortgage Resources in California
Federal Trade Commission 1-877-382-4357

Welfare Fraud Unit

Special Investigations Unit

Cracking Down on Welfare Fraud 

Yolo County Employment and Social Services Website

The Special Investigations Unit, consisting of Investigators and Enforcement Officers with the District Attorney’s Office, is responsible for investigating fraud committed against the Department of Employment and Social Services. These investigations could include: Food Stamp Benefits, Cash Aid, Homeless Assistance, Child Care, Transportation, Emergency Aid, In Home Support Services and Early Fraud.

Since these investigations require home visits, other crimes, such as child neglect and abuse, elder and dependant adult abuse and drug related violations often arise. As a result, the SIU works closely with Child Welfare Services, Adult Protective Services, Family Support Services, Medi-Cal Investigations, probation and parole, and the USDA Inspector General’s Office to coordinate the deployment of appropriate resources.

By state regulation, the SIU is mandated to conduct Early Fraud and ongoing investigations of criminal conduct within the CalWORKS and Food Stamp programs. When criminal conduct is discovered, the SIU immediately begins the restitution process. A request for prosecution is then submitted to the District Attorney’s Office. The SIU also coordinates the recovery of court ordered restitution.

SIU responsibilities include:

  • Ensure program integrity through client responsibility.
  • Identification of internal theft, contractor fraud and employee malfeasance.
  • Investigate referrals of criminal conduct per appropriate state codes.
  • Respond to security alert requests by DESS staff.
  • Assist DESS with the identification of fraudulent documents.
  • Assist law enforcement agencies in locating suspects through welfare records.
  • Conduct early fraud investigations of applicant information.
  • Conduct homeless assistance investigations of housing applications.
  • Investigate electronic benefit transaction (EBT) recipient and retailer fraud.
  • Resolve cases through disqualification agreements.
  • Serve outstanding arrest warrants on welfare fraud cases.
  • Provide courtroom testimony.

Would you like to report Welfare Fraud?

You have three options for reporting:

1. Contact the Yolo County Special Investigations Unit at 530/661-2654
2. Call the Welfare Fraud Hotline at 800/344-8477.
3. Complete the online Welfare Fraud Reporting Form.

What Welfare Fraud information should be in the report?

  • Provide the full name and approximate age of the person suspected of fraud.
  • Include the same information of all persons living in the home. Especially dependants.
  • Provide the complete address and city where the person suspected of fraud lives.
  • Provide the time when the person suspected of fraud is typically at the residence.

Additional Information Needed

  • Is employment income not reported or misrepresented?
  • Is a false name or fraudulent identification being used to receive assistance?
  • Is a public employee assisting the person suspected of fraud?
  • Is a private business assisting the person suspected of fraud?
  • Is a false name or fraudulent identification being used to receive assistance?
  • Is a public employee assisting the person suspected of fraud?
  • Is a private business assisting the person suspected of fraud?

Workers’ Compensation Insurance Fraud

Workers' Compensation Fraud Investigation

Workers' Compensation Fraud Investigation

Form to Report Insurance Fraud

The law makes it a felony to commit workers’ compensation fraud. What types of fraud can occur?

Claimant Fraud - This occurs when an employee or employer lies to obtain or deny benefits that are required by law. Examples would be to lie about how an injury occurred, the extent of their injury, or the employment status of an employee at the time of injury.

Medical Provider Fraud - This occurs when a medical provider submits bills for services never rendered, or embellishes the services actually provided with intent to be paid.

Premium Fraud - This is where an employer lies about his payroll, experience modification, or classification of his employees. All for the purpose of paying less premium than required.

Uninsured Employers - This occurs when an employer fails to provide workers compensation insurance to cover his employees.

Yolo County District Attorney Jeff W. Reisig believes in a fair market place. Through the efforts of his Insurance Fraud Unit, efforts are made to identify, investigate, and prosecute offenders for workers’ compensation fraud. Great strides have been made with recent workers’ compensation reform, but there are those that would look for a free ride and attempt to get benefits that they are not otherwise entitled to receive.

The cost of doing business in Yolo County is impacted by the cost of labor and the necessary insurance to cover employees in the event they are injured on the job. When fraud is introduced, it negatively impacts the entire county, as it raises the cost that we would otherwise have to pay for goods and services. Employers often attempt to skirt workers’ compensation laws by denying they have employees, or wrongly classifying their employees as sub-contractors.

The fact is, a sub-contractor has to be a bonafide business, with its own licenses and insurance to cover its employees. Those that pay under the table, without withholding the necessary taxes, are committing a felony and become personally liable for the taxes the employer fails to collect.

Furthermore, the property owner is exposed to liability, when they allow a person or business to work on their property who isn’t covered by workers’ compensation insurance. If their employee is hurt, the property owner can be sued.

It is wise to check your potential business out. Do they have a municipal business license? Are they licensed through the Contractor’s State Licensing Board? Do they have a bond? Do they keep and maintain workers’ compensation insurance for their employees or sub-contractor’s employees?
Partnership?

What if they claim to be a partnership? Does their advertising claim to be a partnership? Are they registered with the Secretary of State? Are both of their names on the municipal business license? Do they have a fictitious business name filing that identifies each of them as an owner? In the absence of any or all of these, you may not have a bonafide partnership. As such, should the non-interested business partner be injured on the job, the property owner could be liable.

Who should you call?

To report Workers' Compensation Insurance Fraud, call our hotline at: 530-406-4524

When referring a concern to the District Attorney’s Office, you can call:

Investigator Paul Hillegass at 530-666-8442

Citizens may remain anonymous, but keep in mind, the investigation process is more expeditious when we can verify the reliability of the person making the complaint and how it is they know what they know.

301 Second Street | Woodland, CA 95695 | 530-666-8380 Phone | 530-666-8423 Fax