SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Dozens of people have been arrested in a large, organized insurance fraud ring in Sacramento.
Investigators say it's one of the biggest cases they've ever seen.
Officials with the California Department of Insurance say these types of crimes are becoming more common in the Sacramento area.
Investigators say more than 60 people helped carry out an elaborate multi-year, $500,000 insurance fraud ring. The ring leader, 30-year-old Michael Young, is now behind bars for 10 years.
California Department of Insurance investigator Clint Herndon said, "These guys were staging collisions—that was the typical scheme–which means they were crashing cars into each other, they knew both parties involved in the collision, and reporting these collisions to the insurance company and collecting on the losses."
Of the 65 suspects, most were from South Sacramento and were identified during the 16-month investigation. In some cases, investigators say criminals paid off parties to use their information to file claims, but in most cases, they stole identities.
"You and I ultimately pay higher premiums for these losses," said Herndon.
Thanks to advanced technology, investigators with the California Department of Insurance and the California Highway Patrol were able to cross-reference insurance claims, making it easier to crack down. They also say there's a new trend. Career criminals with extensive rap sheets are now carrying out the crimes. In this latest ring, 17 people were charged. Nine of them were convicted, while others await trial.
Authorities are still searching for three women: Desiree Vasquez and Lavina Nunally of Sacramento, and Jazlyn Burrell of Vallejo.
"This is a serious crime, and we're on top of it," said Herndon.
Investigators say California is ground zero for auto insurance fraud cases.