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6/28/2011 - Three men convicted of staging automobile accidents

Three New England residents have been convicted of auto insurance fraud.

A Massachusetts jury recently passed down a guilty verdict for three New England residents who allegedly took part in a staged motor vehicle accident scheme.

According to state Attorney General Martha Coakley, James Hyde of Boxford, Omar Castillo of Methuen and Michael Kaplan of Hampstead, New Hampshire, were all convicted of their charges, which included motor vehicle insurance fraud, larceny over $250 and attempted larceny over $250.

Investigators said Lopez may have been the ring leader as he was the one who recruited the other men and damaged the vehicles.

"In the midst of rising insurance costs, these men used their knowledge of the auto insurance system to knowingly defraud companies and make some fast cash," said Coakley. "This is a serious crime that not only defrauded insurance companies, but it also hurts consumers financially by contributing to an increase in premiums."

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, questionable claims rose by 23 percent in the first quarter of 2011. If you suspect insurance fraud, you may report it directly to Selective by calling our Fraud Hotline (877-862-2824). We will make every effort to maintain your confidentiality. You can also report insurance fraud to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (800-835-6422) or to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.

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