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Six Arrests Made In Connection With Insurance Fraud Ring

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Six Chatham and Randolph County residents are suspected of masterminding an extensive auto insurance fraud ring with possible ties to the illegal drug trade.

The arrests came as a result of a raid of the suspects' residences early Tuesday morning after a grand jury returned 45 indictments in Siler City Monday.

Investigators at the Department of Insurance, along with several law enforcement agencies, the United States Postal Inspector Service and the National Insurance Crime Bureau teamed up to shut down the alleged ring, which may have netted suspects up to $2 million.

Authorities believe a number of automotive accidents were deliberately caused, so people could collect insurance payments. Authorities found some of the incidents involved filing false claims in the names of the suspects' children.

Investigators believe the suspects filed an estimated 480 auto crash claims since 1992. They believed that it was initially family members hitting other family members in vehicles to collect insurance money, but later progressed to them hitting innocent victims' cars.

Frankie Alston, Gloria Alston, Ellen Burns, Reynaldo Dimas Colores, Dorothy Maria Depaz and Jose Anton Depaz have been arrested. Charges included obtaining property by false pretenses, habitual felon and conspiracy to obtain property by false pretenses.

The defendants were booked at the Siler City Police Department and are being held at the Chatham County jail. More charges may be brought later.

Investigators allege the fraud ring may have been part of a larger illegal drug operation. Authorities say more arrests may be coming.

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