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Prosecutors: Stockton tow truck driver staged 22 crashes in insurance fraud case

The suspect uploaded videos of the staged crashes to a YouTube page to highlight "bad drivers" in the Stockton area, investigators said.

STOCKTON, Calif. — San Joaquin County prosecutors say a Stockton tow truck driver staged nearly two dozen crashes with unsuspecting drivers as part of a five-year-long insurance fraud scheme.

Eliu Canales, 43, was arraigned in San Joaquin County Superior Court Wednesday and faces 54 counts of felony insurance fraud, assault with a deadly weapon and reckless driving.

The San Joaquin County District Attorney's Office says Canales, who worked for AAA as a lead tow truck driver, orchestrated 22 vehicle collisions with unsuspecting drivers in order to file insurance claims against their insurance companies.

Canales allegedly collected over $35,000 in unlawful insurance payouts between 2017 and 2022.

According to the California Department of Insurance, Canales would hide in the blind spots of other cars and as those cars attempted to change lanes, he would accelerate and sometimes turn into them.

Canales allegedly documented the crashes using video and audio that investigators say he uploaded to a YouTube channel to highlight "bad drivers" in the Stockton area.

Most of the videos have since been removed from the YouTube page and many of the crashes allegedly happened at the same locations.

Officers with the California Highway Patrol arrested Canales March 14 after a warrant was issued for his arrest. He is scheduled to appear in court again for a bail review on March 29.

Anyone who believes they may have been a victim can call the California Department of Insurance at 800-927-4357.

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