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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
January 27, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General
Division of Criminal Justice
- Vaughn L. McKoy, Director
Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor
- Greta Gooden Brown, Insurance Fraud Prosecutor

 

Rachel Sacharow
609-984-1936

 
 

Division of Criminal Justice - Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Charges Passaic County Man in Automobile Insurance “Give Up” Scam

TRENTON - Division of Criminal Justice Director Vaughn L. McKoy announced that the Division of Criminal Justice - Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor has obtained an indictment charging a Passaic County man with conspiracy, attempted theft by deception and insurance fraud for his role in an automobile insurance “give up” fraud.

According to Director McKoy and Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Greta Gooden-Brown, Juan Feliz-Pena, 58, Hope Avenue, Passaic, Passaic County, was charged with conspiracy, attempted theft by deception and insurance fraud (all 3rd degree). If convicted of all charges, Feliz-Pena faces up to 15 years in state prison and a fine of up to $45,000. In addition, Feliz-Pena faces the possibility of the imposition of civil insurance fraud fines pursuant to the Insurance Fraud Prevention Act. The defendants will be ordered to appear in Passaic County Superior Court for arraignment and bail at a date yet to be determined.

The Passaic County Grand Jury indictment, returned on Jan. 21, alleges that between Oct. 7 and Nov. 20, 2003, Feliz-Pena and Amalia Vanlaparra, 54, Bruner Avenue, Bronx, NY, took part in an automobile “give up” scam”. A “give up” is when the owner of a car voluntarily transfers the car to another person so that the car can be hidden, resold with a different Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), or chopped for parts so that the owner can claim it was stolen and submit a false automobile insurance theft claim.

An investigation by the Division of Criminal determined that Feliz-Pena and Vanlaparra paid $500 to several people - one of whom was an undercover State Investigator assigned to the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor - to take Valaparra’s leased Toyota RAV4 so she could submit a phony automobile insurance theft claim.

According to the indictment, Vanlaparra submitted a phony auto theft police report to the New York Police Department. Following this submission, a false theft claim worth $19,000 was allegedly submitted to Geico Insurance Company for the RAV4.

On Aug. 12, 2004, Vanlaparra pled guilty to an Accusation charging her with insurance fraud (3rd degree) before Passaic County Superior Court Judge Marilyn C. Clark.

State Investigators Joe Vendas, Marc Cofone and Luis Cruz, and Deputy Attorney General Richard W. Queen were assigned to the investigation into this case. DAG Queen represented the State before the Passaic County Grand Jury.

"Automobile theft in New Jersey continues to be a target of law enforcement investigation and phony automobile insurance theft claims resulting from automobile "give up" schemes remain a priority for the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor," Prosecutor Gooden-Brown said. "Too many people are willing to lie to an insurance company and claim their car was stolen in order to avoid a repair bills or end-of-lease payments. This indictment demonstrates the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor’s resolve to vigorously investigate and prosecute such cases.”

Noting that some important cases have begun with anonymous tips from the public, Prosecutor Brown emphasized that individuals can make a difference. “We need people’s information, not their identities. People who are concerned about insurance cheating and have any information about a fraud can call our toll-free hotline at 1-877-55-FRAUD, or visit our Web site at www.NJInsurancefraud.org .”

A indictment is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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