18 Suspects Arrested in Insurance Fraud Probe

LOS ANGELES -- After a three-year investigation, dubbed "Operation Rent and Wreck," authorities last Tuesday arrested 18 suspects in connection with an alleged insurance-fraud ring that used rental cars to stage accidents.

Investigators said the ring staged more than 110 collisions and defrauded insurers out of more than $2.5 million over a nine-year period. The arrests occurred in both Southern California and Arizona.

Authorities said the cars involved in the staged collisions were rented from airport locations in Burbank, Los Angeles and Van Nuys in California. Targeted rental companies included Hertz, Avis, Alamo, National, Enterprise, Sav On, Dollar and Thrifty.

According to investigators, the crime ring included attorneys, doctors, chiropractors and others who conspired to stage collisions and submit fake medical bills.

Suspects allegedly traveled to Phoenix to recruit drivers to stage the collisions, which occurred late at night in busy Los Angeles intersections. Police were usually called to take accident reports, authorities said.

The arrests last week included suspected ringleaders Ahmed Khan and attorney Keith W. Washington. Also arrested were three Los Angeles doctors: Clifford A. Davis, Paul L. Guidry and Adrienne T. Alston.

The California Department of Insurance Urban Auto Fraud Task Force headed the multi-agency investigation. Also involved in the probe were the California Highway Patrol, Los Angeles District Attorney's Office, Arizona Department of Insurance, Franchise Tax Board, National Insurance Crime Bureau, and California State Bar Association. California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi announced the arrests in a news conference on the day of the arrests.

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