Three people, including a Bothell man, are facing insurance fraud charges after investigations by Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s Criminal Investigations Unit (CIU).
Jonathan Franciuc, 27, of Bothell pleaded not guilty to one felony charge of filing a fraudulent insurance claim in February 2017. Two other suspects are facing similar charges and two more pleaded guilty in the investigation.
Franciuc purchased a State Farm insurance policy for his vehicle on Feb. 8, 2017 and subsequently filed a damage claim on Feb. 15 after supposedly colliding with a highway divider, according to court documents. The investigation later found that the agent who assisted Franciuc’s same-day policy approval was related to him, but at the time, a managing State Farm agent called the claims department expressing concerns on the claim’s validity.
“[The managing agent] questioned the timing of the loss in relation to the policy inception date, the claimant’s relationship with [the other agent], and also believed the loss reported by Franciuc involved prior vehicle damage,” court documents say.
Despite the concerns, State Farm approved the claim and paid Franciuc $6,785 on March 9, 2017 for the total loss of his vehicle and a rental car but also opened an investigation four days later.
State Farm’s Special Investigations Unit confronted Franciuc about discrepancies and inconsistencies with his claim in April 2017 and Franciuc admitted he lied in his policy application. Despite this, he still insisted that the damage occurred after he purchased his policy.
Franciuc changed his story one more time a month later, notifying State Farm that he wanted to withdraw his claim and pay back the settlement funds. He did so on May 4, 2017 and the investigation was referred to Kreidler’s CIU.
The investigation concluded that the accident did occur but four days before Franciuc applied for the same-day policy, according to Washington State Patrol’s incident reports. Investigators found Franciuc had contacted the State Farm agent minutes after the collision, the day before his application and the day of the policy inception, after reviewing phone records.
Franciuc’s case is set to continue on Oct. 24 in King County Superior Court. He is innocent until proven guilty in the court.
Kreidler’s CIU investigates insurance fraud and works with Washington’s Attorney General’s Office and local prosecutors on criminal cases. Insurance fraud can cost the average family $400 to $700 per year in increased premiums, according to the Insurance Commissioner’s Office. Insurance companies are required by law to report fraud to the commissioner.
Consumers can also report suspected insurance fraud on the insurance commissioner’s website. The CIU also aims to discourage fraud by offering ways for consumers to recognize and prevent fraud through educational presentations and awareness outreach.
“Our director speaks frequently at events to increase awareness of insurance fraud and how to avoid it,” the commissioner’s website reads. “Presentations are designed for civic groups, chambers of commerce and members of the insurance industry. We also give presentations for the public, private organizations, law enforcement, fire investigators and government agencies.”