Probe of suspected staged car crashes leads to 60 arrests



TORONTO - More than 200 charges have been laid against 60 people for allegedly staging car crashes north of Toronto and submitting nearly a million dollars in fraudulent insurance claims.

York Regional Police say the accused, some of whom work in the medical and legal professions, were busted during a two-part investigation dubbed Project Sideswipe.

The first stage of the operation focused on those who were involved in nine collisions that the Insurance Bureau of Canada concluded in August 2010 were staged, police said Tuesday.

IBC investigators estimate the insurance industry lost $850,000 from the nine cases, which involved allegedly false medical billings from several medical rehab and assessment centres in Brampton, Toronto and Mississauga.

"As of Dec. 13, 51 suspects had been arrested and 201 charges, including conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, fraud under $5,000, fraud over $5,000 and obstruct police officer, have been laid," police said.

The second stage of Project Sideswipe was launched in September. It focused on those who allegedly operated a criminal organization responsible for submitting false claims.

Another nine people have been arrested on 41 charges, including participating in a criminal organization, possession of proceeds of crime over $5,000 and money laundering, police said.

Rick Dubin, the IBC's vice-president of investigative services, claims those arrested in the second stage of the investigation for generating suspected false insurance claims have ties to medical assessment centres, injury treatment clinics, legal services offices and auto repair shops.

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