For Immediate Release: October 7, 2014

Pair Charged with Insurance Fraud After Witnessing Wilmington Accident

RALEIGH -- Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin today announced the arrests of Eric Apollo Best, 45, of 3403 Princess Place Drive, Wilmington, and Nicole Sharmell Johnson, 27, of 406 Henry Street, Wilmington.

Department of Insurance criminal investigators allege that Best and Johnson filed fraudulent bodily injury insurance claims with Travelers Insurance and Amica Mutual Insurance after witnessing a car accident in Wilmington on July 22, 2014. Both sought medical treatment after claiming to be struck by one of the vehicles while walking on the sidewalk. After a joint investigation by Department of Insurance investigators and the Wilmington Police Department, it is alleged that neither Best nor Johnson was struck by a vehicle.

Best and Johnson were arrested by the Wilmington Police Department on Oct. 6.Each was charged with two counts each of insurance fraud, attempting to obtain property by false pretense and felony conspiracy, and released on a $10,000 bond.

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 2009, criminal investigators have made more than 1,000 arrests, resulting in more than 500 criminal convictions with more than 200 cases currently pending court. These efforts have delivered more than $61 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--