For Immediate Release: September 13, 2011

Suspected Head of Staged Accident Ring Arrested in Tryon

One suspect still wanted in alleged insurance fraud scheme

RALEIGH -- Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin today announced the arrest of Michael Kareem Hannon, 26, of 740 E. Howard St., Tryon, N.C.; he is charged with 16 counts of insurance fraud, nine counts of obtaining property by false pretense, eight counts of attempting to obtain property by false pretense, and one count each of felony conspiracy and continuing a criminal enterprise.

After a two-year investigation, Department of Insurance criminal investigators allege that Hannon was the mastermind of a staged accident ring in and around Polk County that involved several of his family members and close acquaintances. He is charged with filing false insurance claims with Progressive, GMAC, Allstate, Safeco, GEICO and Liberty Mutual insurance companies. The total estimated losses associated with the claims are in excess of $100,000.

With the assistance of the National Insurance Crime Bureau, Polk County Sheriff's Office, Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office, Landrum Police Department and Tryon Police Department, Hannon was arrested on Sept. 11 at an apartment complex in Tryon and is being held on a $100,000 secured bond. Seven additional suspects in the case were arrested on Sept. 8.

Criminal investigators are requesting the public's assistance in locating Randy Bashawn Littlejohn, 36, of 111 Gold Medallion Drive, Bostic, N.C. He is the last of the known suspects being sought in association with the alleged staged accident ring and is wanted on charges of insurance fraud, attempting to obtain to property by false pretense and felony conspiracy.

Anyone with information on Littlejohn's whereabouts is encouraged to contact the Tryon Police Department at 828-859-9195, or the North Carolina Department of Insurance Criminal Investigations Division at 919-807-6840.

The Department of Insurance employs 20 sworn state law enforcement officers dedicated to investigating and prosecuting claims of insurance and bail bonding fraud. Since Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin took office in 2008, criminal investigators have received more than 11,000 complaints resulting in 505 arrests, 286 criminal convictions, and more than 100 cases currently pending a court appearance. These arrests have resulted in more than $44 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.

--NCDOI--