California Attorney Convicted of Using Paid Recruiters to Prey on Accident Victims

California Attorney Convicted of Using Paid Recruiters to Prey on Accident Victims

Attorney Walter Martinez has pled guilty to 43 felony counts of using cappers (recruiters paid from victims' insurance settlement) to get clients for his practice. Martinez ran this scheme with at least three cappers. Martinez was sentenced to 365 days in jail on December 19, 2013, followed by three years felony probation and a $91,000 fine.

"The use of cappers is a problem because these individuals usually approach accident victims acting as an attorney with no training and give legal advice to people when they are vulnerable after a collision," said California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "My department is adamant about insurance protection for all Californian's and my team works diligently to prevent professionals from using business practices that are illegal to victimize consumers."

The Department of Insurance Auto Insurance Fraud Task Force, received information and documentation that indicated Martinez was using cappers. In this case, bank records showed that more than $250,000 in checks were written to the alleged cappers between 2009 and 2012.

"The success of this case was based on the vigorous effort of the investigators at the Department of Insurance to thwart unethical activity committed by professionals in our community," said Deputy District Attorney of San Bernardino, Jim McGee.

If you have been approached at the scene of a collision or hospital by individuals offering to refer you to a specific attorney, chiropractor, or body shop for repairs, you should avoid sharing any information with these illegal cappers or runners.

Consumers approached by cappers/runners should contact the Department of Insurance hotline at 800-927-4537 or local law enforcement.

The cappers also sentenced in this case were Israel Gonzales, who guilty to eight counts under 750(a) IC, and Michael Melcher, who pled guilty to two counts under 750(a) IC [enhanced version available to subscribers].