Authorities have reportedly uncovered a ring of scam artists who ripped off insurance companies to the tune of about $170,000 by staging car accidents and seeking payouts for faked injuries, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office.
Teddy Marks, 41 of Morgan Hill, is charged with felony insurance fraud and grand theft after he pretended to hit an accomplice with his vehicle in San Bruno in the latest scam, according to D.A.’s spokesman Sean Webby.
Marks is being held in lieu of $1 million bail, Webby said. If convicted, he faces up to six years in prison. He is scheduled for a plea hearing in Santa Clara County Superior Court May 25 at 9 a.m.
“In real car crashes, people are often tragically hurt. In these fake accidents it is the residents of California who are being injured,” said Deputy D.A. Charlotte Chang, who prosecutes such cases. “Insurance fraud directly affects each of us – the costs to the insurance companies are passed along to consumers through higher insurance premiums.”
In the latest incident, Marks pretended to have hit pedestrian Louis “Skippy” Miller, 54, of New Jersey, with his car while texting and driving in the parking lot of Artichoke Joe’s Casino in San Bruno, according to a press release from Webby.
Claiming he was injured by the negligent stranger, Miller went to three hospitals – in San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, authorities said. Miller filed an insurance claim and got a $100,000 payout. Miller faces a $1 million arrest warrant. Investigators do not believe an accident occurred.
“The probe found that the men were hardly strangers,” Webby said.
In an earlier incident, the two defendants’ sons – Alex Miller and Thomas Marks – were convicted by the D.A.’s office for committing a similar scam, Webby said. Marks’s son was the driver and Miller’s son was the “victim” in an accident that investigators believe never happened. In that case, Miller fraudulently got a $30,000 insurance payment. Alex Miller was also convicted for committing four other car crash cons with two other associates, Monica Ristick and Red Hawk, whose warrants remain outstanding.
Hospitals and insurance companies lost more than $170,000 from these five staged collisions, according to authorities. Alex Miller’s wife, Danielle, was also prosecuted by Chang earlier this year for staging a car-pedestrian collision, after which she received a $15,000 insurance payout.
Anyone who has any information on these cases or defendants can call Santa Clara County District Attorney Investigator Dale Morgan at (408) 201-8808.