A southern California arson task force discovered an arson-for-hire fraud ring involving a new-car dealership.
SUV owners would contact the finance manager hoping to trade in their vehicles for something more fuel-efficient, according to reports. As an alternative, they were put in contact with an arsonist who told them to leave the keys in the ignition and $300 cash in the glove box.
Authorities said the SUVs would be driven off, an arsonist would set the vehicles on fire at a remote location, and the owners would then report their vehicles stolen to their insurance companies.
However, rather than debts being wiped out, they were investigated for insurance fraud. The thief was caught and warrants were served on seven others.