Three suspects have been arrested following an 11-monthinvestigation by the California Department of Insurance of an autoinsurance fraud ring that targeted car rental and insurancecompanies. From 2000 to early 2002, the suspects would rentvehicles, returning them a day or two later with slight damage. Therenter would report that the damage resulted from a collision witha parked, unoccupied vehicle. Another person then would contact therental company as the owner of the vehicle that had been struck,and submit a claim for property damages, the Fraud Divisionreported.

The same vehicles with the same damages were used over and overagain in multiple claims, according to investigators. One of thevehicles, a 1997 Mercedes Benz SL600, was used in 10 claims, andvarious insurance companies paid more than $100,000 in settlementsfor alleged damages to the vehicle. The potential loss to thevarious car rental and insurance companies is estimated at nearly$500,000.

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