A 29-year-old Fairbanks man faces 32 felony and misdemeanor charges for reportedly filing false insurance claims and forging documents to increase his payout for a BMW he totaled while eluding police in 2015.
Ryan James Hannah, 29, of Fairbanks is charged with 16 counts of filing a false, incomplete or misleading statement in support of an insurance claim; four counts of second-degree forgery; one count of scheming to defraud; one count of second-degree theft; and one count of coercion, all felonies.
Hannah is also charged with two counts of making a false statement on an insurance application, three counts of criminal impersonation and one count each of leaving an accident without providing information, failure to give immediate notice of an accident, no vehicle liability and unlawful practice of law.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Fairbanks District Court, Hannah’s 2008 BMW 328x was insured by State Farm under a policy belonging to his mother. Hannah filed two claims and had the car repaired, but returned it to the shop several times and complained that the problems were not fixed. State Farm eventually declared the car a total loss and decided to pay Hannah the fair market value of the car. Upon learning this, Hannah insisted he’d purchased and had installed after-market components that increased the value of the car.
Hannah submitted a series of fraudulent and forged invoices for a stereo system, a remote start, window tint and custom floor mats, according to the complaint. Hannah also submitted a claim for damage he said was caused while the car was in impound. State Farm paid Hannah a total of $33,407 to settle the two claims and canceled the policy.
Six days after receiving the last insurance check, Hannah drove his newly restored car into the back of a city bus. The incident was declared a hit and run after investigators viewed surveillance footage showing Hannah speeding off afterward without trying to contact the bus driver, according to the complaint.
Hannah texted his mother 18 minutes after the collision and said “just did a ... hit and run on a bus.” About 40 minutes later, he went to an Allstate Insurance office to open an auto insurance policy on the car in his mother’s name. Hannah asked that his mother not be informed because the car was going to be a Mother’s Day present to her. After being told he’d need his mother’s signature on one document before the application could be processed, Hannah went to his car, forged her name and returned to the office, according to the complaint.
Seven days after Hannah hit the bus, a friend who had been visiting Hannah’s house accidentally backed into the parked BMW. The friend, who described the impact to investigators as a “bump” or “tap,” looked at the damage to Hannah’s car and realized he could not have caused all of it. He knocked on Hannah’s door and told him about the accident, at which point Hannah insisted his friend had caused the damage and should file an insurance claim with his own provider. When the friend resisted, Hannah claimed to be an attorney and threatened to contact the mother of his friend’s child to amend the custody order and make him pay more child support. Hannah also threatened to disclose personal information about him to get him in trouble at his job and with the court system, according to the complaint.
Hannah’s friend filed a claim on his own State Farm insurance policy and Hannah called an Allstate agent to cancel the policy he had opened under his mother’s name. When told his mother would need to come in and sign a termination document, Hannah called the Allstate office and impersonated his mother on the phone, according to the complaint. After the call, Hannah called the insurance agent again and asked to be retroactively refunded to the date of the accident.
Hannah forged his mother’s signature on the car’s title after she refused to transfer it to him, and later sent his friend’s insurance company an email with an attached letter purporting to be from his mother and that he’d forged her signature. The forged letter was notarized with a stamp from the 4th District Court in Fairbanks. Investigators contacted the Clerk of Court’s office and were told the notary stamp was fraudulent.
State Farm decided to settle the claim after receiving the notarized letter, which it did not know was forged. Hannah claimed the car’s transmission had been damaged as well and immediately began insisting the company pay to replace it. Hannah sent his friend seven text messages in three days in which he coached him on what to say to the insurance adjusters.
Investigators discovered audio recordings on Hannah’s phone in which he pretended to be his friend, rehearsed what he would say to the insurance company and said “So I don’t actually know how long I’ll be able to keep up this facade of my voice being changed and me portraying (his friend).
State Farm refused to repair the BMW’s transmission. Hannah then called the company and insisted they needed to reimburse him $3,038 for 10 key fobs that he claimed were in the car and got lost when it was towed. Hannah also demanded State Farm extend a rental car contract for him and altered a letter from the insurance company to make it appear they had agreed to do so, according to charging documents. Investigators estimate that State Farm paid Hannah a total of $19,980 in fraudulent claims.
Court records show Hannah was convicted of failing to stop at the direction of a peace officer in 2016, driving under the influence in 2016 and 2015 and shoplifting in 2015.
Contact staff writer Dorothy Chomicz at 459-7582. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMcrime.