TRENTON - Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a Union County woman has been indicted for allegedly filing a fraudulent automobile insurance theft claim in an attempt to steal money from an insurance company.
Spring Wesley-Ofori, 35, of Linden, was charged yesterday (April 9) with second-degree insurance fraud and third-degree attempted theft by deception.
The state grand jury indictment alleges that between Aug. 12 and Sept. 4, 2013, Wesley-Ofori, who lived in Newark at the time of the alleged crime, submitted a fraudulent auto insurance theft claim to Progressive Garden State Insurance Company in an attempt to steal the approximate value of her 2007 Jeep Liberty. An investigation determined that the retail value of the SUV was approximately $12,000. An investigation by the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor determined that Wesley-Ofori allegedly knew that her vehicle had been repossessed, not stolen. It is further alleged that Wesley-Ofori made several fraudulent statements to Progressive in an attempt to perpetuate the fraud. Progressive denied the claim and referred the matter to the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor.
Deputy Attorney General Michael Locke, Detective Taryn Kong, Detective Natalie Brotherston, Lt. Frederic Moore and Civil Investigator Vincent Cappetta coordinated the investigation. Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Ronald Chillemi thanked Progressive for its assistance in the investigation.
The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Second-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of $150,000 while third-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of five years in state prison and a criminal fine of $15,000.
Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Chillemi noted that some important cases have started with anonymous tips. People who are concerned about insurance cheating and have information about a fraud can report it anonymously by calling the toll-free hotline at 1-877-55-FRAUD, or visiting the Web site at www.NJInsurancefraud.org. State regulations permit a reward to be paid to an eligible person who provides information that leads to an arrest, prosecution and conviction for insurance fraud.