Bonnie Dumanis. Photo courtesy of KUSI News

A two-year investigation uncovered a major auto insurance fraud ring in San Diego in which the defendants made $200,000 worth of false insurance claims and bilked a dozen insurance companies out of $125,000, it was announced Thursday.

Nine defendants were charged in “Operation Persistent.”

“When cheaters scam insurance companies, law abiding citizens end up footing the bill,” said District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. “Our insurance fraud team did an excellent job collaborating with the California Department of Insurance and the Highway Patrol to dismantle this crime ring.”

The ring used various schemes to file 34 false insurance claims for auto property damage. The schemes included staged collisions, nonexistent collisions, using already damaged vehicles and phony vehicle thefts.

Authorities said the crimes were discovered due to the diligent efforts of the San Diego Automobile Insurance Fraud Task Force, which is made up of law enforcement officers from the state Department of Insurance, the District Attorney’s Office and the California Highway Patrol.

“Insurance fraud is not a victimless crime,” said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. “We all pay for these crimes when insurers pass along the losses through higher premiums.”

— City News Service

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