RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia prosecutors say six people have been arrested for their alleged roles in an insurance fraud scheme that involved setting 30 fires.
Federal prosecutors say the defendants over the course of 16 years set fire to homes, trailers, mobile homes and cars they bought at auction or in foreclosure in order to collect insurance proceeds.
Prosecutors say the defendants also made false statements to insurance companies, firefighters and law enforcement officers. The payouts for each fire ranged from $1,000-$300,000, totaling a combined sum of roughly $900,000.
The defendants are: 72-year-old Verdon Taylor, 37-year-old Vershawn Jackson, 58-year-old Sylvia Mitchell, 54-year-old Marie Taylor, 32-year-old Dorel Watson and 57-year-old Eugenia Fleming. They were all arrested on Thursday.
Locals involved in 16-year, fire-setting insurance fraud
By BRANDON SHULLEETA Richmond Times-Dispatch
Mar 10, 2017
Richmond and Henrico County residents were among six arrested Thursday in connection with 30 fires allegedly set to fraudulently collect nearly $1 million in insurance payments.
A federal indictment claims the fraud — which involved fires set to properties in Richmond, Henrico and Florida — began as early as 2000 and continued until as recently as November 2016.
“The details of each fire vary, but the frequent pattern was for the defendants allegedly to buy a car or home at auction or in foreclosure, insure it, and then collect insurance proceeds in excess of the purchase price after it burned,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia stated in a news release Friday.
At the center of the alleged fraud was Verdon Taylor, 72, of Leesburg, Fla.
His son, Vershawn Jackson, 37, of Sandston, was the first person known to be involved, nearly 17 years ago, in what became dozens of cases of insurance fraud in the years since, according to the indictment. Jackson was issued a check from Nationwide for $5,228.25 in May 2000 for fire damage to his Cadillac, the indictment states, and then a series of insurance claims continued in subsequent years.
Claims were made by the father and son for various things that caught fire, including cars and homes, the indictment states.
Taylor’s girlfriend, Marie Taylor, 54, of Richmond, also became a part of the fraud, federal investigators allege.
The indictment lists numerous cases of defendants in the alleged conspiracy buying fire insurance with different insurance companies, lying about their records of fire insurance claims, then submitting insurance claims for things they intentionally burned.
Last month, Verdon Taylor had a phone conversation with an unidentified man in which the man informed Taylor that he had been contacted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives about some fires, according to court records.
“Tell those people to get out your face,” Verdon Taylor responded, according to court records.
Taylor advised the man to hang up the phone whenever agents called him, according to the court record.
The indictment was unsealed in federal court Friday.