Fayette deputies uncover arson for profit insurance scam; 5 arrested in statewide fraud ring
Five women were arrested Tuesday for participating in a statewide insurance fraud scheme that involved torching a residential unit at the Shiloh Mobile Home Park, sheriff’s officials said.
The suspects, charged with violating the state’s “racketeer influenced and corrupt organization” act, were identified by sheriff’s investigators as:
• Deanna Leigh Webster, 22, of Columbus;
• Shantavia Nichole Stewart, 22, of Fort Valley;
• Ashley Simmons, 23, of Columbus;
• Tamia Shinay Nicholas, 23, of Columbus; and
• Diana Lukisha Moore, 36, of Columbus.
A warrant has also been issued for Shaemeka Eileen Miller, 23, of Columbus in connection with the investigation, and more arrests may be forthcoming, according to the sheriff’s office.
Fayette County fire officials first notified the sheriff’s office of the “suspicious nature” of the August 2010 fire at Shiloh Mobile Home Park, officials said. Investigators then discovered similar fires in Columbus, Kennesaw, Hampton and Locust Grove.
It was determined that in each incident, there was a similarity in the types of homes, manner of purchase, and the nature of the fire and insurance policies obtained for each location, sheriff’s investigators said.
The arrests were made Tuesday by a group including Fayette and Muscogee County sheriff’s deputies, the Fort Valley Police Department, the U.S. Marshals Southeast Regional Fugitive Taskforce, and the fire departments from Henry County and Columbus, officials said.
The investigation was also aided by the Fayette County Department of Fire and Emergency Services, the Georgia Fire Marshall’s Office and the Columbus Police Department, officials said.