New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and
Bronx District Attorney Robert T. Johnson today announced the arrest of 22
people as part of the takedown of a major auto insurance fraud ring based in the
As part of Operation F.I.G. (Fraudulent Insurance Give-up), detectives in the
Auto Crime Division also recovered 47 stolen vehicles with a total estimated
value of more than $820,000.
"Once again, the talent and dedication of our detectives has put
an end to a widespread crime operation," said Police Commissioner Kelly. "Our
officers amassed enough evidence that should ensure conviction of these
criminals, and their work serves as another warning: We will not tolerate
insurance fraud in New York City."
"It must be understood that the collective greed of individual
owners picks the pockets of honest consumers. Insurance fraud drives up the cost
of the premiums that we all have to pay," said Bronx District Attorney Johnson.
"Hopefully, these arrests will send a strong message that this kind of dishonest
and illegal conduct will be punished."
During the 30-month investigation, members of the Auto Crime
Division's Bronx Investigation Module rented a warehouse in the Hunts Point
section of the Bronx and set up a fake insurance fraud operation. The crime ring
worked like this: Car owners gave their vehicles to the crime ring's leaders,
and then claimed they had been stolen to collect insurance money. The leaders of
the crime ring turned around and sold the cars to undercover detectives, whose
fake operation claimed to ship them overseas to be sold in Hong Kong and
The crime leaders were Lance Medina, 26; Leonard Sanchez,
25; Robert Bibbens, 27; and Juan Reyes, 33. Medina and Sanchez were arrested on
Monday, October 28, and Reyes was arrested on Tuesday, October 29. Bibbens was
already being held on other charges. All four have been charged with Grand
Larceny Auto and Insurance Fraud. Police also arrested 18 other members of the
crime ring -- 17 for Insurance Fraud, one for Filing a False Police
The National Insurance Crime
Bureau and Progressive Insurance assisted the New York City Police Department
throughout this investigation.