Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman and the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor (OIFP) announced today that an Essex County man has been arrested for allegedly running a scheme through the website Craigslist that offered services that would aid New Jersey residents in illegally registering their cars in other states to avoid paying market insurance premiums.
Shareem Taylor, 30, who had last known addresses in East Orange and Englewood, was arrested today in Englewood by OIFP detectives and charged with second-degree insurance fraud and second-degree conspiracy. He is currently being housed at Bergen County Jail on $50,000 bail. Second-degree crimes can carry a state prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of $150,000.
Taylor, who allegedly posted the advertisement under the pseudonym “Brandon”, offered assistance, for a fee, with “Out of State Vehicle Registration”. Additionally, “Brandon” allegedly offered his clients assistance with insurance policies for their newly registered vehicles. The posting also read: “I can lower your instate [sic] insurance by up to 50 percent” and “I’ve been doing this for 6 years I have over 600 customers.” An undercover OIFP detective responded to Taylor’s advertisement and later received from the defendant titling documents and license plates from South Dakota for her fictitious car.
Taylor’s services would allegedly allow his customers to perpetrate reverse rate evasion. Legislation signed into law last week by Governor Chris Christie made reverse rate evasion a form of insurance fraud. The measure targets residents who fraudulently obtain auto insurance in another state with lower rates, even though New Jersey is their principal residence or they principally keep the insured vehicle in New Jersey.
The new law would consider the reverse rate evasion a form of insurance fraud that violates the New Jersey Insurance Fraud Prevention Act. The bill also specifies that reverse rate evasion constitutes a violation of the New Jersey Insurance Fraud Prevention Act, with various civil penalties and remedies provided for in that act applying to violations.
The investigation was conducted by Detectives Robert Rosa, Amy Carson, Heather Pittman, Michael Behar, Janet Amberg under the supervision of Lieutenant Joseph Waters. Deputy Attorney General Reid Caster represents the state in this matter. Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Ronald Chillemi thanked Geico Insurance, Progressive Insurance, Esurance, and Citibank Investigations for their assistance with this investigation.
Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Chillemi noted that some important cases have started with anonymous tips. People who are concerned about insurance cheating and have information about a fraud can report it anonymously by calling the toll-free hotline at 1-877-55-FRAUD, or visiting the Web site at www.NJInsurancefraud.org. State regulations permit a reward to be paid to an eligible person who provides information that leads to an arrest, prosecution and conviction for insurance fraud.