DENVER — Colorado Attorney General John Suthers announced today that his office has obtained an indictment from the Statewide Grand Jury against a dozen individuals involved in a highly organized insurance-fraud scam.
“Insurance fraud artificially drives up rates for all consumers,” Suthers said. “This complex fraud ring could have cost Colorado consumers millions of dollars in higher insurance rates if we had not shut them down. Breaking up this crime ring is a victory for Colorado auto insurance consumers.”
According to the 39-count indictment, the enterprise is suspected of filing 35 fraudulent insurance claims with 12 different insurance companies on vehicles involved in staged accidents, fraudulent vandalism or fake thefts in and around Denver. According to the indictment, the false claims totaled $460,762 between March 17, 2007 and Nov. 10, 2009.
The enterprise employed a variety of approaches to defraud the insurance companies, including:
- In some cases, the enterprise used the identities of Middle Eastern students to obtain, register and insure cars used in the suspected insurance fraud. The ring also is suspected of using the students’ identities to file false insurance claims on the vehicles.
- In some instances, the ring is suspected of using Aurora-based G&R Export Import, Inc., to acquire salvage vehicles for use in the alleged insurance-fraud scheme.
- In some instances, the ring used the Sheridan-based Auto Clinic and the Aurora-based Frame Monsters to falsify damage estimates and repairs on vehicles used in the fraud scheme.
- The repair shops were allegedly used, in some instances, to cause further damage to vehicles involved in the staged accidents to augment the false insurance claims.
- In some cases, multiple fraudulent insurance claims were filed on the same vehicle. Some of the vehicles involved in the accidents were “repaired” and used in subsequent staged accidents.
The 12 indicted individuals are: Rene Zakhem (DOB:5/5/1963), Tariq Alzuwayed (DOB: 5/10/1987), Marwan Zakhem (DOB: 10/30/1963), Riad Zakhem (DOB: 10/6/1961), Hassan Khechen (DOB: 6/4/1962), Joelle Zakhem (DOB: 12/2/1974), Michelle Zakhem (DOB: 7/14/1974), Saad Hamad (DOB: 8/14/1975), Xexela Martinez (DOB: 12/3/1987), Wissam Khechen (DOB: 11/25/1973), Abdulrahman Fawzy (DOB: 4/1/1984) and Amin Ahmed (DOB: 8/30/1948).
The Office of the Attorney General obtained the indictment with the assistance of the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the Aurora Police Department and the Sheridan Police Department. Prosecutors from the Office of the Attorney General will present their case against the defendants in an Arapahoe County District Court.