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April 26, 10

NEWS / Irvington Man Charged in An Automobile Owner Give Up Scam

TRENTON Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced that an Irvington man has been charged in a state grand jury indictment for his role in an automobile "give up" scam.

According to Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Riza Dagli, Christopher George, 36, whose last known address was in Irvington, was charged yesterday (April 22) with second-degree insurance fraud, third-degree theft by deception, third-degree tampering with public documents, third-degree hindering apprehension of self, and fourth-degree falsifying records.

The indictment alleges that on Jan. 27, 2008, George filed a false police report with the Irvington Police Department alleging that he last saw his 2006 Pontiac G6 on Jan. 26, 2008, when, in fact, the car had been found burning in Brooklyn, NY on Jan. 25, 2008. It is alleged that George subsequently filed a claim with High Point Insurance Company for the purportedly stolen vehicle and, as a result of the alleged fraud, received $12,550 from High Point Insurance Company to which he was not entitled.

George allegedly made a tape recorded interview and signed a false affidavit of theft with the High Point Insurance Company, knowing that the vehicle had not been stolen. It is alleged that, on April 4, 2008, George made a false statement in an examination under oath conducted by High Point Insurance Companyís law firm.

The indictment further alleges that on Sept. 29, 2008, George made false statements regarding the purported theft of the vehicle to detectives from the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor.

Detective Frank Cignarella, and Deputy Attorney General John J. Higgins were assigned to the investigation. Deputy Attorney General Higgins presented the case to the state grand jury. Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Dagli thanked the Irvington Police Department and the High Point Insurance Company for their assistance in this investigation.

The indictment is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Second-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of five years in state prison and a criminal fine of $15,000. Fourth-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence 18 months in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $10,000.

Acting Fraud Prosecutor Dagli 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 1-877-55-FRAUD or visiting the Web site www.njinsurancefraud.org. State regulations permit an award to be paid to an eligible person who provides information that leads to an arrest, prosecution and conviction for insurance fraud.

The Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor was established by the Automobile Insurance Cost Reduction Act of 1998. The office is the centralized state agency that investigates and prosecutes both civil and criminal insurance fraud, as well as Medicaid fraud.


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AnnaMaria Realbuto
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