Insurance fraud cases result in diversion programs
Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s Criminal Investigations Unit (CIU) investigations criminal insurance fraud and refers cases to local and state prosecutors for charges.
As of Oct. 23, we have received 2,097 referrals for insurance fraud this year.
Most often, cases are resolved in the court system and it’s common for them to result in probation and restitution to insurance companies. Less often, cases are resolved by the defendant completing a diversion or drug program.
Here are some recent cases that were resolved through diversion programs:
Married couple Jenea and Nicholas Burkhart each were charged in Spokane County Superior Court in June 2019 with felony counts of attempted second-degree theft and filing a false insurance claim. They pleaded guilty and entered a diversion program and the four felony charges against them will be dropped if they comply with the program’s conditions. The Burkharts were charged after filing a homeowner insurance claim for a $2,800 diamond wedding ring they reported lost but that Safeco Insurance determined was at a pawn shop at the time of the claim.
Eric Slade was charged with first-degree theft in Kittitas County Superior Court in December 2018 after he self-reported to Kreidler’s CIU that he had filed fraudulent insurance claims with two companies. The judge moved his case to drug court, where the charge against him will be dismissed if he completes the program and pays restitution of $1,091 to GEICO and $5,582 to Liberty Mutual.
Slade contacted Kreidler’s office in September 2017 to report that he filed fraudulent auto insurance claims of more than $5,500 with two insurance companies. He told investigators that for both claims he staged incidents in order to file claims. He drove his car until it ran out of gas, damaged it to make it look like it was vandalized, and purchased items that he reported stolen but actually kept and used the receipts for the claims.
Ishtiaq Quidwai was charged in Spokane County Superior Court with presenting a false insurance claim and second-degree attempted theft in June 2019. He paid restitution of $528 to California Casualty Insurance Company and entered a felony diversion program, where the charges against him will be dropped if he completes the program.
Quidwai filed a homeowner’s insurance claim with California Casualty in March 2017 related to a water leak that resulted from a bathroom plumbing issue. An adjuster confirmed the damage, estimating the loss at approximately $2,343. Quidwai accepted a settlement of $1,800 after his deductible was paid. He later submitted additional repair expenses totaling more than $10,000 using falsified receipts.
One case was resolved with a suspended sentence. Maria Cullooyah was charged in July 2019 in the Tribal Court for the Spokane Tribe of Indians of the Spokane Indian Reservation of Washington with fraud and obstruction of justice. She pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and was sentenced to serve 90 days in jail, 18 months of unsupervised probation, and must pay a $300 fine and $50 court fee. The judge suspended the jail time, and she can withdraw her guilty plea after she successfully completes her probation.
Cullooyah was charged when she bought insurance for her Ford F150 after an accident and filed a claim with Progressive, stating the damage happened three days after she bought the policy.
Kreidler’s CIU investigates insurance fraud and works with Washington State Patrol and state and local prosecutors on criminal cases. Insurance fraud costs the average family $400 to $700 per year in increased premiums. Insurance companies are required by law to report fraud to the commissioner.
Consumers can report suspected insurance fraud on the insurance commissioner’s website.