March 28, 2019
OLYMPIA, Wash. – Two Yakima County residents face insurance fraud charges after investigations by Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s Criminal Investigations Unit (CIU).
Rebecca Tabares Garza, 53, of Yakima, was charged in Yakima County Superior Court with three counts each of filing a false insurance claim, forgery and second-degree theft.
According to the investigation, Garza purchased an accident-only policy for herself and her family from American Fidelity Insurance in 2013. The policy provides coverage for injury or death as a result of an accident. From 2013 until 2017, Garza submitted 27 injury claims. Based on the number of claims, American Fidelity opened an investigation into Garza. The insurer identified three claims in 2017 totaling $5,175 for herself and her adult children that she substantiated with falsified medical documentation. American Fidelity canceled Garza’s policy and referred the case to Kreidler’s CIU.
Roberto Roman-Salgado, 22, of Granger, was charged in Yakima County Superior Court with first-degree attempted theft and filing a false insurance claim.
According to the investigation, Roman-Salgado totaled his uninsured car on Sept. 28, 2018, in Yakima Valley when he fell asleep while driving. He purchased auto insurance from Progressive on Oct. 2 and filed a $10,131 claim the next day. Progressive found tow records showing the collision happened before the policy was purchased and denied the claim. Progressive referred the case to Kreidler’s CIU.
A married couple will avoid prosecution on misdemeanor insurance fraud charges by entering a pre-trial diversion in Kitsap County. Jason McCown and Taijae McCown each were charged in Kitsap County District Court with one count of filing a false insurance claim.
According to the investigation, Taijae McCown filed a claim with USAA on Feb. 3, 2018 after damaging her car when she hit a curb. USAA denied the claim because the policy had been canceled for nonpayment four days earlier. On Feb. 7, Jason McCown reinstated the policy and then filed a claim on Feb. 9 for damage that matched the earlier claim, saying it was a different collision. USAA denied the claim and referred the case to Kreidler’s CIU.
The McCowns agree to repay $971 to USAA for rental car expenses it paid before denying the claim, $200 each in court fees and avoid criminal law violations for one year. If they meet these terms, the charges will be dismissed in March 2020.
Kreidler’s CIU investigates insurance fraud and works with the Washington State Patrol and state and local prosecutors on criminal cases. Insurance fraud costs the average family $400 to $700 per year in increased premiums. Insurance companies are required by law to report fraud to the commissioner.
Consumers can report suspected insurance fraud on the insurance commissioner’s website.