D O J Seal
U.S. Department of Justice

United States Attorney
Northern District of Texas

1100 Commerce St., 3rd Fl.
Dallas, Texas 75242-1699



Telephone (214) 659-8600
Fax (214) 767-0978

CONTACT: 214/659-8600
MAY 31, 2007


Victim Insurance Companies Defrauded of More than $1 Million

DALLAS — Federal, state and local law enforcement officers arrested 19 out of 22 defendants yesterday who are charged in a federal indictment with participating in a massive staged accident scheme, announced U.S. Attorney Richard B. Roper of the Northern District of Texas. The 71-count indictment was returned by a federal grand jury last week and unsealed yesterday.

U.S. Attorney Roper said, “Thanks to the diligent investigative efforts of the IRS - Criminal Investigation, the FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service, this indictment and these arrests essentially brings to a screeching halt one of the most egregious and long-running staged accident operations to defraud insurance companies in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex.” Roper continued, “This office is committed to taking these lawbreakers off the streets and will continue to investigate and pursue charges against those who engage in insurance fraud.”

Robert E. Casey Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas Division of the FBI stated "Today's announcement is a result of our continuing efforts to investigate staged automobile accidents in the Dallas area. The 22 criminal indictments obtained, and 19 persons taken into custody yesterday, demonstrate the commitment of the FBI, along with our law enforcement partners and private sector insurance investigators, to ensure the safety of our North Texas communities. The staging of contrived automobile accidents on our streets poses a significant danger to innocent citizens and ultimately contributes to rising insurance premiums and health care costs. Investigations related to staged automobile accidents further serve to protect the insurance industry whose losses invariably impact each and every one of us. The FBI will relentlessly continue to identify and investigate those individuals and organizations who perpetuate these types of crimes."

"Crimes that are motivated by money always leave a money trail and that is where IRS Criminal Investigators can provide the most expertise!" said Erick Martinez, Special Agent in Charge for the Dallas Field Office. “Our Special Agents are called upon to use their financial skills and expertise to unravel criminal enterprises as alleged in this case. IRS Criminal Investigation will aggressively pursue fraudulent schemes and work with other law enforcement agencies investigating the illegal activities from both tax and money laundering perspectives to ensure that criminals are held accountable.”

Kelly Aarons, Assistant Inspector in Charge of the Fort Worth Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said, “The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is committed to protecting the American public from individuals that use the U.S. Mail to operate their fraudulent schemes. Fraudulent insurance claims ultimately contribute to the rise in insurance premiums and all Americans are victimized when this occurs. The Postal Inspection Service is proud to work with the Internal Revenue Service and other federal law enforcement agencies to protect the American public.”

Those arrested yesterday are all residents of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex area, with the exception of two defendants, as noted:

• Tuan(Andy) Nguyen, age 31
• Dorina Buriman, age 30
• Gabriel Buriman, age 30
• Benjamin Covaci, age 26
• Daniel Covaci, age 28
• Jose Manuel Herrera, age 36
• Jesus Huerta, age 31
• Tinh Tim Ngo, age 34
• To Xuan Ngo, age 34
• Anh Linh Nguyen, age 34, of Memphis, Tennessee
• Cindy Tu Nguyen, age 33, of Memphis, Tennessee
• Joe Ngoc Nguyen, age 59
• Jackson Nguyen, age 62
• Toan Ngoc Nguyen, age 32
• Clement Oancea, age 61
• Tereza Oancea, age 57
• Daniel Pascu, age 37
• Nona Magdalena Taut, age 28
• Ovidiu Taut, age 28
• Tay Ngoc Tran, age 40
• Nhat Huy Tran, age 40
• Phuong Thi Truong age 27

The indictment alleges that since January 2000, these defendants, who live in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex area, participated in the staging of automobile accidents, recruitment of other individuals to participate in staged accidents, and the submissions of false and fraudulent insurance claims for injuries and damages allegedly caused by the accidents. They also directed other participants to certain medical clinics for treatment and to certain law firms to file fraudulent insurance claims.

Lead defendant Tuan (Andy) Nguyen is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, 41 counts of mail fraud and aiding and abetting, one count of conspiracy to launder money and 25 counts of money laundering and aiding and abetting. The indictment charges all 22 defendants with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and health care fraud. All but one of the defendants is charged with at least one count of mail fraud. Fourteen defendants are also charged with conspiracy to launder money and all 14 are charged with at least one count of money laundering.

The schemed involved staging multiple motor vehicle accidents schemes to fraudulently depict either the collision of two previously damaged vehicles, or to intentionally cause the planned collision of two vehicles. Fraudulent claims were filed with the insurance companies by the insured, or by a law firm retained to represent the insured. These claims included fraudulent bills for the damage incurred by the vehicles in the staged accidents and claims for injuries that never occurred, or were negligible but medical bills had been created by willing chiropractors for the specific purpose of inflating the number of treatments and the severity of the injuries. As a result of the fraud, numerous insurance companies paid the perpetrators hundreds of thousands of dollars based on fraudulent claims.

The indictment specifically refers to 20 staged accidents occurring from June 22, 2002 to January 18, 2006. As a result of the conspiracy and scheme to defraud, the co-conspirators defrauded victim insurance companies of more than $1 million.

An indictment is an accusation by a federal grand jury and a defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless proven guilty. However, if convicted, the conspiracy to commit mail fraud and health care fraud count (Count 1) carries a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Each mail fraud count (Counts 2-42), upon conviction, carries a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The conspiracy to launder money count (Count 43), and each of the money laundering counts (Counts 44-70), each carry a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine, upon conviction. The money laundering charge (Count 71) carries a maximum statutory sentence, upon conviction, of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Restitution may be ordered.

U.S. Attorney Roper praised the investigative efforts of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox.