More than a dozen people around Miami have been arrested and several more arrests are pending in the culmination of a two-year insurance fraud investigation connected to lunch trucks. Short Order has obtained the 43-page affidavit that lists the 15 participants who are accused of staging more than a dozen accidents involving the trucks between 2008 and 2010, accounting for more than $800,000 in fraudulent damage and injury claims paid out by major firms such as Progressive, State Farm, and Old Republic.
According to the arrest records, the defendants transferred the titles of their food trucks and hired other participants to use vehicles that were sometimes rented -- and sometimes even stolen -- to crash into food trucks that had pre-existing damage. The defendants would then file crash reports and claims with insurance companies, usually for thousands more than the actual damages.
Police say the scammers were paid between $1,000 and $2,000 per staged accident and, along with the truck owners, are now facing felony grand theft, insurance fraud, and accident-staging charges. The grand theft charges alone come with up to a 15-year prison term. The crashes were allegedly staged throughout Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
Sometimes, police say, the owners didn't even bother staging realistic crashes. One
witness alleged that a truck involved in one insurance claim was "not operable due to previous damages that were sustained from a crash"
and that the other truck "intentionally backed the rental truck into the
The arrangements and payouts were usually
conducted outside the lunch trucks' headquarters or apartment parking
lots. Yessen Catering in Hialeah is the only company named directly in the affidavit, in connection with an allegedly staged wreck April 25, 2009.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.