MARTINEZ -- A Richmond man has been charged with 92 felonies, and a Fresno man with 30, for an insurance fraud scam that bilked dozens of companies out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, Contra Costa District Attorney Mark Peterson announced Friday.
Richmond resident Louis Houston, 48, and 28-year-old Cedric Birdell Jackson Jr., of Fresno, were charged with dozens of counts of fraud, burglary and perjury on Wednesday after a yearlong investigation by the District Attorney's Office and California Department of Insurance.
State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said investigators estimate the insurance companies were scammed out of between $400,000 and $600,000 but that it could be more. The pair is suspected of filing more than 165 fraudulent claims, but the charges stem from fewer alleged incidents.
Houston is charged with filing fraudulent claims of property loss from at least 10 fires, 20 incidents of theft or vandalism, eight auto collisions and six incidents of water damage between 2000 and 2011, prosecutors said. Jackson is charged with crimes dating to 2010, and is accused of submitting the same receipts as Houston for lost or damaged items that, in reality, were either still in their possession or had been returned to stores for full credit, deputy district attorney Kristina McCosker said.
"If you've been in a fire or collision, you need your check right away," McCosker said. "Scams like this cause a delay in you getting that
The California Department of Insurance's Advisory Task Force reported in 2008 that insurance fraud costs Californians $15 billion annually.
"Honest consumers and businesses end up paying the price: the cost of that fraud is passed on to the community through higher insurance premiums, longer response times for legitimate claims, and ultimately the increased costs of goods and services," Peterson said in a written statement.
Investigators arrested Houston and Jackson on Thursday upon executing search warrants, and they found many of the items that had been claimed lost or damaged, McCosker said.
The pair is expected to be booked soon into County Jail, on bail set at $1.865 million for Houston and $620,000 for Jackson. An arraignment date is pending.
Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.