Southland auto shop owner sentenced to state prison in $180,000 fraud case
Also pleaded guilty to grand theft, money laundering, and false impersonation
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — Hani Abujudeh, 55, of Rancho Cucamonga, the leader of an auto insurance fraud scheme, was sentenced yesterday to six years in state prison for involvement in the scheme where he filed over 35 fraudulent claims, manipulated used car odometers and vehicle titles to make the vehicles appear more valuable and then used false identities of other victims to sell those cars on Craigslist and Auto Trader to unsuspecting customers. Abujudeh pleaded guilty to seven felony counts including auto insurance fraud, money laundering, perjury, false impersonation and grand theft.
Abujudeh was required to pay victim restitution in the full amount of $183,475.22. The victims included 15 individuals and four insurance companies who appeared in court yesterday to receive their restitution checks.
"California is ground zero for auto insurance fraud, which is paid for by consumers when insurers pass along their fraud losses through higher premiums," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Thanks to the hard work of our investigators at the Department of Insurance, our taskforce partners, and the San Bernardino District Attorney's office, Abujudeh's crimes were exposed and he was successfully prosecuted."
An investigation by the Inland Empire Auto Insurance Fraud Task Force, led by the Department of Insurance, revealed Abujudeh, owner and operator of Perfect Auto Detailers, filed over 35 claims on his company insurance policy claiming various fictitious employees crashed customer vehicles as they were being moved. Abujudeh claimed the vehicles were taken to his shop for auto detailing when the collisions occurred.
During a search warrant conducted at Abujudeh's residence, 25 fraudulent California drivers' licenses were recovered with Abujudeh's picture on them as well as evidence of the various fraudulent insurance claims and vehicle sales. By following the title transfers on each of these vehicles, the team began to unravel the complex web of fraud involving Abujudeh and his co-defendants. Investigators revealed the licenses were used by Abujudeh in various curbstoning and grand theft schemes.
"This prosecution is a prime example of how much can be accomplished when our law enforcement agencies network their information and resources," said San Bernardino Deputy District Attorney Karen Parker-Parent. "Because Mr. Abujudeh used so many different identities in the many various auto insurance fraud schemes he committed, it would've been difficult for any one agency alone to identify the perpetrator."See the full ad on the California Department of Insurance Website.