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Washington State Investigators Bringing Charges of Auto Insurance Fraud Statewide

Posted by Steve Karimi | Jun 01, 2019 | 0 Comments

Washington's Office of the Insurance Commissioner's Criminal Investigations Unit is a state agency that investigates individuals and groups who participate in acts to defraud insurance companies. In a 2019 report, the organization estimated that roughly one of every ten claims made to insurers are fraudulent. They largely attribute rising insurance rates to the acts of fraudulent activity. The organization posts a “most wanted” listing of fugitives accused of insurance fraud.

Kennewick Case

In Franklin County Superior Court, Paul Albarella from Kennewick, plead guilty to theft charges after attempting to commit fraud. He purchased an insurance policy from GEICO for his Ford F-250 truck and one month later filed a claim. Investigators determined that the damage had actually been the result of a collision that occurred the day before he secured the policy. GEICO had originally assessed the damage as amounting to over $8,000.

Renton Case

In the King County Superior Court, Nicholas Jones and Harjot Burns, of Renton, Washington, faced charges relating to an insurance scheme that sought to defraud Progressive. A report from the Washington State Patrol revealed that Burns had been the “at-fault driver in a hit-and-run collision” prior to the day Jones purchased the insurance policy.

Bellevue Case

Jonark and Janine Cunanan faced felony charges of filing false insurance claims in a King County Superior Court after attempting to defraud Esurance. They filed a claim in February for a collision that actually had occurred a month earlier. They attempted to obtain more than $10,000 for their 2012 Volkswagen Jetta, which would have been the replacement value as a total loss. Records from the Bellevue Police Department were used to confirm that the claim was fraudulent.

Washington Law: False Insurance Claims

In RCW 48.30.230 the code addresses the crime of false claims as being a knowingly committed unlawful act as follows:

  • Bringing a “false or fraudulent claim” for compensation based on an insurance contract
  • It may involve presenting a false document(s) that is used to support a claim that is fraudulent
  • When a false written account supporting the claim is made and the claim amount exceeds $5,000, the crime may be a class C felony
  • Other claims that amount to less than $5,000 and lack written supporting documentation may be a gross misdemeanor

Intentionally Creating Damage

In RCW 48.30.220, the code discusses intentional acts of fraud where that perpetrator physically causes the basis for an insurance claim. These acts may involve property that the offender “destroys, secretes, abandons, or disposes of.” The offender may be guilty of committing a class C felony. A class C felony offense may be punishable by a prison sentence of up to five years and a maximum fine of $10,000 may be imposed.

Experienced Defense Lawyer for Allegations of Fraud or Theft

Attorney Steve Karimi has been effectively representing clients facing allegations of insurance fraud and similar acts for many years in the Washington court system. He independently reviews the facts and evidence of each individual case in order to challenge the assertions of criminal activity and create a comprehensive defense strategy. Contact the office today for a consultation at (206) 621-8777.

About the Author

Steve Karimi

Steve Karimi attended Pepperdine University School of Law. After graduation he worked as a prosecutor in Seattle where he gained valuable insight to the criminal justice system. Attorney Karimi uses his experiences as a prosecutor everyday only now he fights for the justice of those accused.


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Named a "rising star" in criminal defense by Washington Law and Politics magazine, Mr. Karimi is a former prosecutor for King County who uses his insight into prosecution strategies to protect his clients' rights in criminal court.