Stuntmen, false injuries, vehicles with multiple accidents: the SPVM is investigating a suspicious series of traffic accidents, suspecting stagings to carry out fraud.
June 22, 2021, 9:37 p.m. A violent collision involving four vehicles, two in motion and two parked, occurs at the corner of boulevard Léger and rue Lanthier, in Montreal North.
Firefighters and police dispatched to the scene help the occupants and collect their statements, which all agree.
But the animation that reigns in the street attracts an onlooker, resident of the sector. “Come to my house, he told the police, I have a surveillance camera that captured the scene. »
The patrollers view the images. These show a story quite different from that told by the drivers and passengers of the vehicles involved.
Before the impact, the camera captured a coming and going between individuals on foot or in cars, who are talking, and the vehicles which stop, seeming to wait for a signal.
Then the collision occurs, presumably intentional.
The driver of an involved Mazda exits through a window, moves with a hunched back, straightens further, then drives away.
At the same time, another vehicle arrives on the scene, a woman gets out and sits in the Mazda, making the police believe that she was the one who was driving.
This “orchestrated collision” and at least six others that occurred between May 2021 and April 2022 in the Rivière-des-Prairies and Montreal-North sectors are at the heart of an investigation led by the SPVM’s Economic Crimes Division against a network of fraudsters. who allegedly cheated, or attempted to cheated, the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) and insurance companies, La Presse learned.
According to a court document obtained by La Presse, at least twenty individuals, including extras and nominees, facilitated the activities of this network led by two individuals with links to vehicle brokers.
During some of these fake collisions, stuntmen got behind the wheel of the vehicles before the impact and fled the scene immediately after, replaced by people, men or women, who posed as drivers and made statements lies to the police.
In several cases, three or more vehicles were involved in the collisions. These vehicles were most of the time purchased from a wick broker or paid for in cash from an individual, and insured a few weeks or a few days before the collision, even the day before in one of the cases.
The odometers of some vehicles have been rolled back, including one by more than 130,000 kilometres, to increase the value of claims.
In other cases, vehicles were already in an accident before the collision, which the suspects did not declare after the impact.
Another time, compensation of $20,000 was paid by an insurance company to one of the suspects and two other times, sums of $17,000.
The alleged leader of the network receives compensation from the SAAQ, but the request was refused for three other suspects who could have received up to $1,215 every two weeks.
On April 13, 2022, during a collision involving five vehicles at the corner of Chaminade and de Louvois streets, a surveillance camera in the area allowed the police to see that it was another scene.
One of the vehicles involved was pushed by three suspects who pulled it into the intersection.
After the collision, the driver of one of the vehicles, a Volkswagen Tiguan, left the driver’s seat of the SUV and another took his place. He called 911 twice, asking for a police presence.
His insurance company paid him $5,000 to have his vehicle repaired. But two and a half months later, the same SUV, since sold, was involved in a questionable collision for which the new owner received compensation of $13,000. However, the authorities then realized that the first repair had never been carried out.
It was the testimony of the first onlooker, the fact that another orchestrated collision was planned and carried out under the eyes of a plainclothes policeman and the images from surveillance cameras that allowed investigators from the Economic Crimes Division of the SPVM to initiate this investigation.
Investigators from the SAAQ and the defrauded insurance companies have realized that they have been victims of scams and have managed to prevent them in some cases. They also provided important information to the police.
In particular, they analyzed the telephone records of the main suspects during the spring and summer of 2021 and found that one of them communicated hundreds of times with individuals allegedly involved in the frauds, and that several of the people involved in collisions were communicating with each other before and after impact.
The investigation is continuing and the suspects could potentially be charged with fraud and conspiracy.