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February 20, 2013

Two Edgecombe men arrested in alleged Wake County staged Accident Scam

TARBORO — Two Edgecombe County men — Iwaun Adarryl Harper and Maurice Ricks — are among 10 persons suspected of operating a staged accident scam in Wake County.

Harper, 39, of 105 Canal St. in Conetoe, is one of seven people arrested as the result of a Department of Insurance (DOI) investigation into the alleged scam.

On Tuesday, Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin announced the arrests and also requested assistance from the public in locating three additional suspects.

Harper, who is being held in the Wake County Jail on a $75,000 secured bond, was charged with two counts of obtaining property by false pretense, one count of attempting to obtain property by false pretense, two counts of insurance fraud and three counts of conspiracy to obtain property by false pretense.

Ricks, 31, of 120 Tony Drive, Rocky Mount, on three counts of obtaining property by false pretense, one count of attempting to obtain property by false pretense, four counts of conspiracy to obtain property by false pretense and three counts of insurance fraud.

DOI criminal investigators allege that between May 7, 2012, and June 26, 2012, the suspects staged three automobile accidents, during which several suspects claimed to be injured and submitted false insurance claims to Allstate Insurance Company, Nationwide Insurance Company, North Carolina Farm Bureau Insurance, Travelers Insurance and Progressive Insurance.

Allstate and Farm Bureau representatives alerted the DOI after discovering that all three accidents involved the same suspects as either passengers or drivers. More than $84,000 had been paid by the insurance companies to the suspects for their medical claims.

Two Nash County residents — Sedrick Jones, 21, of 4629 S. Halifax Road, Rocky Mount, and Erica Merritt, 21, of 804 S. Brooklyn Blvd., Nashville — were also arrested and charged.

Jones was charged with two counts of obtaining property by false pretense, two counts of insurance fraud and two counts of conspiracy to obtain property by false pretense. He is being held on a $10,000 secured bond.

Merritt was charged with three counts of obtaining property by false pretense, one count of attempting to obtain property by false pretense, three counts of insurance fraud and four counts of conspiracy to obtain property by false pretense. She is being held on a $35,000 secured bond.

Others arrested included:

• 23-year old Morgan Hollins of Raleigh, charged with one count of insurance fraud, one count of obtaining property by false pretense and one count of conspiracy to obtain property by false pretense. Hollins is being held on a $10,000 unsecured bond.

• Adante Howell, 23, of Raleigh, charged with one

count of attempting to obtain property by false pretense and one count of conspiracy to obtain property by false pretense. Howell is being held on a $10,000 unsecured bond.

• Roger Trevon Howell, 22, of Raleigh, charged with one count of attempting to obtain property by false pretense and one count of conspiracy to obtain property by false pretense. Howell is being held on a $10,000 unsecured bond.

• Brittany White, 23, of Raleigh, charged with one

count of obtaining property by false pretense, one count of insurance fraud and one count of conspiracy to obtain property by false pretense. White is being held on a $10,000 secured bond.

In addition to Ricks, investigators are also looking for:

• Derrick Fortune, 25, of 4902 Arcadian Court, Raleigh, wanted for one count of obtaining property by false pretense, one count of insurance fraud and one count of conspiracy to obtain property by false pretense.

• Corey Jones, 28, of 3912 Old Coach Road, Raleigh, wanted for one count of obtaining property by false pretense, one count of insurance fraud and one count of conspiracy to obtain property by false pretense.

Criminal investigators are requesting the public's assistance in locating Fortune, Jones and Ricks. Anyone with information on their whereabouts is encouraged to contact the North Carolina Department of Insurance Criminal Investigations Division at (919) 807-6840.

An estimated 10 cents of every dollar paid in premiums goes toward the payment of fraudulent claims. To report suspected fraud, contact the Department of Insurance Criminal Investigations Division at )919) 807-6840.

Callers may remain anonymous. Information is also available at www.ncdoi.com.

(A press release from the North Carolina Department of Insurance contributed to this report.)

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