Would-be fraudsters in Georgia are increasingly turning to U-Haul trucks with hopes of making a quick buck by staging crashes, insurance regulators say.AutoSpecial Investigations
Many have ended up with arrest warrants and fraud convictions instead.
A spokesman for the Georgia Department of Insurance said 20 criminal cases involving U-Haul claims were opened in 2019. Late last month, the Insurance Department announced fraud charges against two women who are accused of faking accidents involving U-Haul rental trucks.
“This practice involving staged U-Haul accidents is becoming increasingly popular,” Insurance Commissioner John F. King said in a Jan. 31 press release.
King made that comment while announcing that an arrest warrant had been issued for Atlanta resident Delise Patterson, 36, for alleged insurance fraud. Investigators say King coordinated a staged accident on June 22 involving a U-Haul truck and another vehicle. She is accused of filing a false insurance claim with RepWest Insurance, a carrier that is owned by U-Haul’s parent company.
Also on Jan. 31, the department announced that it is seeking information on the whereabouts of Sontana Marie Teasley, 27, of Augusta. She is also charged with insurance fraud after allegedly staging an accident involving a U-Haul truck and her car in Richmond County.
Brandon Wright, a public information officer for the Insurance Department, said the 20 cases opened in 2019 represent nearly a third of the 63 investigations involving U-Haul since 2014. He said since 2014, the department has arrested 47 people who are accused of participating in staged accidents involving U-Haul.
Thirty of those cases were closed without any arrest and prosecutors declined to file charges in two cases. The 20 cases opened in 2019 are still under investigation, Wright said.