SACRAMENTO, CA --- During the past week, the California Department of Insurance's fraud division, along with investigators from the district attorney offices of several state counties, have executed nearly 40 arrest warrants as part of a special operation.

"Operation Cover Me" investigated alleged auto insurance fraud over a two-month period and resulted in 28 cases with 38 suspects, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner announced Feb. 4. To date, 28 suspects have been arrested and five were issued notices to appear for arraignment. There are outstanding arrest warrants on five remaining suspects.

The operation involved investigators from the district attorney offices of El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Yolo counties. The D.A. offices of these respective counties are prosecuting the cases.

Insurance fraud is a felony. If convicted, suspects face up to five years in prison and a maximum $50,000 fine on each count.

"In these tough economic times, the temptation to commit insurance fraud may be great but the lesson could not be more simple -- do not do it, it is not worth it," said Poizner. "Insurance fraud is not victimless, it is ultimately paid for by other California consumers."

CDI initiated Operation Cover Me after detecting a rising trend of suspected fraudulent cases where a claimant is either uninsured or inadequately insured at the time of a loss. The claimant subsequently obtains an insurance policy, and then allegedly lies about the date, time, or circumstances of the loss in order to get benefits to which they are not legally entitled.

Operation Cover Me focused on three specific types of auto fraud scenarios:

-- Suspects were involved in automobile accidents, but obtained insurance coverage after the fact;

-- Suspects were victims of auto theft, but purchased coverage after that theft; and

-- Suspects did not have insurance coverage for certain excluded drivers on the policies, but these excluded drivers are involved in accidents.

In several of the cases, the suspects allegedly conspired with or solicited friends, family members, and other drivers involved in the accident to help perpetrate the fraud.

Allegedly, fraudulent claims were paid up to $9,800. Potential losses in other claims were approximately $35,000. The insurance companies allegedly defrauded were:

-- 21st Century Insurance Co.

-- Amco Insurance Co.

-- Anchor General Insurance Co.

-- California State Automobile Assn.

-- Danielson National Insurance Co.

-- Esurance Property and Casualty Insurance Co.

-- Government Employees Insurance Co. (GEICO)

-- Infinity Insurance Co.

-- Mercury Insurance Co.

-- Progressive Advanced Insurance Co.

-- Permanent General Assurance Corp.

-- Scottsdale Insurance Co.

-- Titan Indemnity Co.

-- Unitrin Direct Insurance Co.

-- Victoria Fire and Casualty Co.

-- Western United Insurance Co.

To read a list of the suspects by county, click here and scroll down to the bottom of the press release.