Eleven people, including a state prison guard, have been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of faking accidents to cheat insurance companies of more than $600,000.
The U.S. attorney's office announced the indictments Wednesday as part of a continuing investigation into auto insurance fraud.
Federal prosecutors have filed charges of mail fraud, aiding and abetting and money laundering against the defendants. Authorities said the participants either staged or scripted accidents and submitted claims to insurance companies for injuries supposedly sustained by drivers and passengers.
Most used aliases to carry out the scheme, court papers said. In one faked accident, prosecutors said, a claimant used phony identities to collect money as the drivers of both cars and three fictitious passengers.
Prosecutor Jamie M. Bennett, who coordinated the federal probe, alleged that the scheme was masterminded by Thomas Aboraah, 35, and Kwame Awua Adjei, 34, both fugitives; Victor Osei-Boateng, 33, of the 2400 block of Gainesbrough Court; and Nana Yaw Asamoah-Mensah, 33, of Herndon, Va. All are natives of Ghana.
She said the government believes that Mr. Aboraah and Mr. Adjei fled the United States for Ghana when they learned they were being investigated. Two others indicted -- Emmanuel Ampofo, 30, of Baltimore and Samuel Mensah, 33, of Glenelg -- also are fugitives.
Mr. Asamoah-Mensah, who was preparing to take medical board exams in Virginia when he was indicted, has been released on his own recognizance. Mr. Osei-Boateng has been placed at a halfway house.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Catherine C. Blake on Wednesday ordered Francis C. Mensah, 34, of the 4700 block of Parkside Drive held pending a detention hearing. Released on personal recognizance were Prince Robert Odiko, 37, of the 3700 block of Elmley Ave., a guard at the Maryland Correctional Institute at Jessup, and Denise Sampson, 28, of Baltimore.
Authorities said another suspect, Brenda Whitt, 35, of the 5100 block of Denview Way, has agreed to surrender. Patrick Bawuah, 32, of the 600 block of Sopwith Drive, is being sought in New York.