(KTXL) — A Stockton tow truck driver was arraigned on Wednesday on 54 counts of insurance fraud, assault with a deadly weapon and reckless driving, according to the California Department of Insurance.
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A joint investigation between the California Department of Insurance and the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office provided evidence that 43-year-old Eliu Canales allegedly staged collisions with unknowing drivers.
On March 14, Canales was arrested and was first arraigned on March 15. Wednesday’s court appearance was for continued arraignment and is scheduled to return on March 29.
Canales is estimated to have allegedly collected at least $35,000 in payouts from insurance companies, according to the department of insurance.
Investigators found that Canales conducted 22 vehicle collisions with unsuspecting drivers between 2017 and 2022 while working as a lead tow truck driver for AAA.
“Canales would hide in the blind spots of other drivers and as those drivers attempted to change lanes, Canales would accelerate and sometimes turn into the other vehicles,” the department of insurance states in a news release.
Using audio and video documentation of the crashes, Canales would send in claims to insurance companies. He is estimated to have claimed over $86,000 in damage and was awarded $35,000 from those claims.
Those same pieces of audio and video evidence were then uploaded to YouTube by Canales to his channel, Stockton Drivers, where he would point out “bad drivers” in the area.
Those who believe they may have been involved in one of these staged collisions can contact the California Department of Insurance at 800-927-4357.