Three people have been charged in what Calgary police describe as a complex vehicle insurance fraud scheme that dates back a decade and involved false reports of stolen semi-trailers.
The investigation started in 2019, when police noticed more semi-trailer truck thefts than in previous years.
The officers also spotted that many hadn't been recovered — which raised red flags, since nearly 90 per cent of stolen vehicles are recovered, the Calgary Police Service said Thursday in a release.
The detectives discovered that one Calgary company, Lakha Trucking Ltd., had reported a number of semis stolen since 2009.
Police investigated and concluded that none of the vehicles had actually been stolen.
They allege the company reported at least eight vehicles stolen to reap the insurance payments, then replaced each truck's Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) with a fake one to hide the fraud.
The fraud reaped more than $350,000 from insurance payments and sales of the stolen vehicles, investigators say.
The Calgary police worked with law enforcement partners in Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories to track down seven of the vehicles.
They've charged three people:
- Lakhbir Singh Dhaliwal, 52, of Calgary is charged with one count each of fraud over $5,000, uttering forged documents, public mischief, trafficking in stolen property and tampering with a motor vehicle VIN.
- Nasib Kaur Dhaliwal, 52, of Calgary, is charged with one count each of fraud over $5,000 and uttering forged documents.
- Baltej Singh Dhaliwal, 56, of Calgary is charged with one count each of fraud over $5,000, uttering forged documents and trafficking in stolen property.
All three are to next appear in court on April 9.
In the release, the Calgary Police Service thanked its partners at the RCMP, Alberta Transportation and Service Alberta for their assistance.
CPS also pointed out that their auto theft team investigates all stolen vehicle reports to uncover insurance frauds, which negatively impact consumer insurance premiums.
"This is a concerning trend for many consumers who are facing high insurance premiums," Staff Sgt. Graeme Smiley said in the release.
"While a majority of the cases we have investigated centre on high-value commercial vehicles, we know that these types of frauds are also happening with personal vehicles."
Anyone with information about vehicle insurance fraud is asked to call the CPS non-emergency number at 403-266-1234. Tips can also be submitted anonymously to Crime Stoppers.