hree and a half years in a federal penitentiary and a free-standing restitution order for $375,000 is the sentence for Uthayakanthan Thirunavukkarasu, also known as Max or Mano. Earlier this year, he entered a plea of guilty to instructing the commission of offences for a criminal organization, proceeds of crime, criminal negligence causing bodily harm and fraud charges in connection with a staged collision ring, known as Project 92, across the Greater Toronto Area. He was personally associated with more than a dozen staged collisions.
“Staged collisions draw innocent drivers into dangerous situations,” said Rick Dubin, vice president of Investigative Services at Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC). “It’s a safety and security issue and we need to strike hard at the core of this practice and eliminate it.”
This significant sentence is the result of teamwork and cooperation among Toronto Police Service, Crown prosecutors, IBC and the insurance industry.
Thirunavukkarasu, of Scarborough, Ont., recruited more than 40 participants and instructed them to stage collisions in order to make fraudulent property damage and injury claims with insurance companies. In January, he entered a plea of guilty to 17 charges related to about a dozen separate collisions netting him approximately $1.2 million. Thirunavukkarasu is the 29th person convicted in relation to this investigation. He is the second person convicted of committing or instructing offenses for the benefit of a criminal organization. IBC estimates the impact to the industry from Project 92 could be as high as $25 million.
Insurance crime is not victimless. The cost to everyone is reflected in the health care, emergency services, court and insurance costs, stated IBC. Insurance criminals take money out of your pocket. In the Project 92 case, one particular staged collision in 2007 went very wrong, and a teenager who acted as a participant, suffered a severe and permanent brain injury.
IBC released a video with additional information on auto insurance fraud and staged collisions. Click here to watch the video.