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Trio charged for faking auto accidents

Published 3:27pm Sunday, February 2, 2014

RALEIGH — A trio of local residents stand charged and three more are sought for questioning in an alleged insurance fraud scheme involving a series of staged auto accidents in Bertie and Hertford counties.

North Carolina Department of Insurance (DOI) Commissioner Wayne Goodwin, who announced the arrests on Thursday, said his investigators believe as many as 30 accidents were staged over the course of several years.

Arrested thus far in the case are:

Travis O’Neil Basnight, 28, of 736 Cremo Road, Colerain, was charged with four counts of insurance fraud, four counts of obtaining property by false pretense, and one count of filing a false police report. Basnight was arrested on Jan. 28 and placed under a $40,000 bond. The News-Herald learned that he was arrested at a fast food restaurant in Ahoskie after an informant notified law enforcement of his whereabouts.

Stephanie Privott, 33, of 216 Old Highway 13 South, Winton, was charged with one count each of insurance fraud, attempting to obtain property by false pretense, and filing a false police report. Privott was arrested on Jan. 23 and placed under a $5,000 bond.

Tinesha Ronica Winston, 22, of 550 Sally Freeman Road, Colerain, was charged with one count each of insurance fraud, and attempting to obtain property by false pretense. She was arrested on Jan. 23 and placed under a $5,000 bond.

The two female suspects turned themselves in to a Bertie County Magistrate, the News-Herald learned.

Basnight was scheduled to make his first court appearance on Jan. 30.  Privott and Winston were given Feb. 6 court dates.

Meanwhile, DOI investigators are seeking assistance from the public in locating three additional suspects in association with this case. They are:

Shemelle Hymn, 19, of 107 Cardinal Lane, Windsor, is wanted for insurance fraud, and attempting to obtain property by false pretense.

Ashley Anastasia Perry, 27, of 103 Kelly Park Lane, Ahoskie, is wanted for one count each of insurance fraud, and attempting to obtain property by false pretense.

Fred Ledel Riddick, 43, of 319 Brown Road, Colerain, is wanted for one count each of insurance fraud, attempting to obtain property by false pretense, and filing a false police report.

Anyone with information on their whereabouts is encouraged to contact the North Carolina Department of Insurance Criminal Investigations Division at 919-807-6840.

DOI criminal investigators allege that over the course of several years, the defendants conspired to defraud several insurance companies of thousands of dollars by submitting fraudulent documentation in support of insurance claims for property damage and injuries in the two counties.

The Bertie County Sheriff’s Office and Ahoskie Police Department assisted DOI in this case.

The Department of Insurance employs 20 sworn state law enforcement officers dedicated to investigating and prosecuting claims of insurance and bail bonding fraud. Since Goodwin took office in 2009, criminal investigators have made more than 800 arrests, resulting in 430 criminal convictions. These efforts have delivered more than $55 million in restitution and recoveries for victims.

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.

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