After a year-long investigation in San Diego, Calif., detectives have made eight arrests and dismantled a staged auto collision ring. As a result of the arrests, the hackneyed saying "tools of the trade," may take on a brand new meaning for these fraudsters.

Each of the numerous collisions involved both a "hammer" vehicle, and a "nail" vehicle. The hammer vehicle was abandoned at the scene prior to police arrival, while the passenger in what was referred to as the nail vehicle claimed soft-tissue injuries and treatment at a local hospital. Following a hospital visit, the suspects then filed personal injury claims with insurers, and, in order to avoid hospital bills, had payment checks sent directly to them. To date, seven insurance carriers have paid out more than $200,000 to suspects involved in a total of 11 staged collisions.

Further investigation into the case revealed that the hammer vehicles involved had either been abandoned by their registered owners or reported as stolen prior to the collision. In one particular staged collision, the backpack of an occupant of the nail vehicle was found by police in the hammer vehicle of the same collision, which had been abandoned at the scene. Numerous connections between the owners of the hammer vehicle to the occupants of the nail vehicles were found throughout the investigation, as well as connections between participants of each collision to the alleged ring leader, Jay Stoney Anderson.

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