SCHENECTADY — An Albany man faces fraud charges for allegedly convincing another man to crash his car for insurance money, authorities said.
Joseph J. Van Antwerp, 24, of Myrtle Avenue, was arrested this week on one count of fourth-degree insurance fraud, a felony, and fifth-degree conspiracy, a misdemeanor.
Van Antwerp is accused of conspiring with Aundrea Blunt, 34, of Avenue B, Schenectady, to crash Van Antwerp's car on Dec. 4 in Schenectady, Schenectady County prosecutor Dan Bulger said.
Van Antwerp reported the car stolen, and police found it when they responded to the crash scene, Bulger said. Police determined Blunt was drunk when he crashed the car. He also hit a pedestrian, causing minor injuries, the prosecutor said.
Blunt was charged with grand larceny, stolen property possession, aggravated unlicensed operation and aggravated driving while intoxicated. The case against him is pending.
As detectives spoke with Blunt, he told them a man he believed was the owner of the car approached him, asked him to crash the vehicle and promised Blunt a cut of the insurance payout, Bulger said.
Authorities checked Blunt's account against city street camera footage and found the video matched his account.
"We determined, based on his allegations and the corroboration that we felt was out there, it was not a theft," Bulger said.
Authorities believe Van Antwerp pulled up outside a Van Vranken Avenue convenience store where Blunt was, called him over and made the offer. A woman in Van Antwerp's car knew Blunt, who agreed to the scheme and was driven to a different location where he was given the keys and was told the car would be reported stolen in two hours, Bulger said.
Van Antwerp's insurance company paid about $2,700, making the insurance fraud a felony, Bulger said.