Real Names: Filemon Santiago and Gary P. Miller
Aliases: None known
Wanted For: Fraud, Manslaughter
Missing Since: June 1992
Details: On June 17, 1992, a car collided with a truck along Interstate 5, a Los Angeles highway. One of the passengers, Jose Perez, was killed; police were shocked to learn that it was part of a fraud attempt. The "swoop and squat" scheme involves two or three cars and a victim, usually a large truck which has a lot of insurance. The first car, the "squat car", goes in front of the truck while the second car boxes it in on the side. The squat car tries to distract the truck driver, while the third car, the "swoop car" gets into the position. The swoop car quickly drives in front of the squat car, which causes the squat car and the victim truck to slam on their brakes. This causes the truck to hit the squat car.
The occupants usually suffer from minor "soft tissue" injuries, which they report to an attorney who makes the claim. Sometimes, the attorneys make millions of dollars from the schemes. They are usually the ringleaders of these operations, working out of the safety of their office buildings. They usually receive most of the money, while the drivers of the cars usually receive the least. A middle man, known as a "capper", often finds people who will do practically anything for money. They are paid as little as $300 from the scheme.
After the crash on Interstate 5, several "swoop and squat" drivers came forward and identified two ringleaders: Filemon Santiago and Gary Miller. Santiago was a Mexican national who lived in Los Angeles. Papers in his apartment linked him to Miller, who was a prominent attorney. Miller has since been arrested but denies any involvement in the schemes. Santiago remains at large.
Extra Notes: This case originally ran on the March 23, 1994 episode. Other "Swoop and Squat" fugitives include Jorge Taracena, Dr. Otto Barkeem, Cecelia Ortega, and Miguel Morales.
Results: Captured. Gary Miller was sentenced to six years for vehicular manslaughter, fraud, and conspiracy. He has since been released. A few days before the broadcast, Filemon Santiago was captured in Houston, Texas. He was convicted of vehicular manslaughter and sentenced to several years in prison. He has also since been released.
- Swoop and squat at Wikipedia
- Scam Targets Truckers in Risky Crashes, Officials Say
- Lawyer held as planner of crash frauds
- Lawyer Held as Planner of Crash-Fraud Scheme
- Swoop and Squats - Mother Jones
- Fugitive Tied to Accident Fraud Seized
- Driver Sentenced to Prison in Fatal Car Crash, Insurance Scam
- Fraud investigators see rise in staged accidents
- Lawyer Faces Murder Trial in Staging of Car Accident
- No Plea Bargain Reached in Insurance Fraud Case
- People v. Shamis (1997)
- Attorney facing charges in death of accident stager resigns