3 women arrested for staging fake car crashes

UPDATE ON OCT. 26: 31-year-old Robert Mitchell and 36-year-old Dorina Mitchell were arrested as suspects in this case. A teenager was also taken into custody.

As of this writing, 65 victims have been identified in these cases.

Anyone who believes they may have been a victim of this type of crime, or anyone with information about these cases should contact Las Vegas police at 702-828-2640. To remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 702-385-5555.

UPDATE ON SEPT. 1: A woman is urging victims of a staged car crash scam to come forward after she nearly fell victim herself. 

Vicki Harris said one of the women arrested for staging accident scenes tried to flag her down near the North Las Vegas airport in May. 

Harris was able to get away, but is urging other victims to come forward to help the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department build a stronger case. 

She's also sending a warning to other Valley drivers since police are still looking for three more suspects.  

"Do not pull over for them, and if there is any slight chance that they think they may have been hit, pull over somewhere that's well-lit with a lot of people around," Harris said. 

ORIGINAL STORY 

Three women have been arrested for staging accident scenes and robbing their victims.

Police began receiving reports of the fake accidents in December 2016. Over the course of the next several months, detectives were able to identify 35 instances of staged accidents.

Many of the crime reports indicated a group of 3-5 suspects in a vehicle would pull up next to the victims, who were also in a vehicle, and signal for them to pull over. Once the victim pulled over, they were told they had hit the suspect’s vehicle and they needed to exchange information.

Several different tactics were used during these incidents. In some cases, one suspect would distract the victim while another suspect would take any valuable items from the victim’s vehicle. In other cases, one suspect would damage the victim’s vehicle while the victim was being distracted, or the victim would be shown previously existing damage to the suspect vehicle. The suspects would then attempt to get a cash settlement from the victim on the spot. In one case, the suspects coerced the victim into driving them to another location to retrieve cash.

On Aug. 13, detectives arrested three suspects in connection with several of these crimes. Arrested were 38-year-old Barbara Miller, 19-year-old Amanda Miller and 28-year-old Sophia Nicholas. The three suspects were transported to the Clark County Detention Center where they all face a variety of charges in connection with several of the reported incidents.

The three were arrested after Amanda Miller was taken into custody at Kohl's near Charleston Boulevard and Durango Drive. According to the arrest report, Amanda Miller had tried to open a line of credit under a fake identity. When the transaction was declined, police said she then concealed some cosmetic items on herself and attempted to leave the store. She was then stopped by Loss Prevention officers.

When officers were speaking with Amanda Miller, both Barbara Miller and Sophia Nicholas arrived at Kohl's and asked what was going on. All three women were eventually arrested, Barbara Miller and Nicholas due to outstanding warrants related to staging accident scenes, including kidnapping-related charges. 

Amanda Miller was also eventually booked on the charges related to staging accident scenes, including conspiracy auto burglary, auto burglary, conspiracy to obtain money/property by false pretense, attempt to obtain money/property by false pretense, conspiracy to break/injure/tamper motor vehicle and break/injure/tamper motor vehicle. She also was arrested on petit larceny, burglary and possession of documents or personal information to commit forgery.

The suspects were able to be identified through photos a victim had in an incident near Charleston Boulevard and Torrey Pines Drive on Aug. 10 when two people got out a car saying the female victim had scratched their car. The victim said she was going to call police to document the incident and that she had video from her vehicle when the two suspects asked her for $40 to $80 to fix the car. The victim paid nothing to the two and drove off and provided the footage to police.

The same day, another female victim called police after an incident that began near Jones Boulevard and Flaming Road after a woman knocked on her window and told her that she had crashed into their car. The woman told the victim she owed $390 in damage, despite the victim not recalling the scratches on the car before she was stopped. The victim told the woman and another woman and man present that she didn't have the money but she had it at home. The victim told police one of the women got tin the front seat of her car and directed the victim to take them to her house, where she eventually gave them the money. Police said during that same incident, one of the women rifled through the victim's things. The victim was then able to identify Barbara Miller in a photo lineup.

In an incident Aug. 12, another female victim had finished shopping at the 99 Cents Only Store near Spring Mountain Road and Tenaya Way. When she was able to leave the parking lot, another woman knocked on her window and said the victim had hit her vehicle, which the victim denied. The victim got out of her vehicle to look at the supposed damage and noticed a man and two women were present. They then were leaving in another vehicle toward Tenaya Way when the victim noticed her purse was missing, including her driver's license and three credit cards. Shortly after the incident, one of her cards was used at a gas station near Spring Mountain Road and Jones Boulevard. A woman and man were caught on video surveillance at the gas station along at a CVS where four suspects attempted to buy gift cards shortly after.

After the three women were taken into custody, Amanda Miller admitted to the incident at Kohl's and to being at the gas station while Nicholas admitted to her vehicle being involved in one of the incidents. Barbara Miller, however, said she had no clue why she was at the police station and was reportedly uncooperative with police.

Detectives believe there are at least three additional suspects that participated in these crimes that have yet to be identified. The suspects were reported to have used a 2016 dark color Nissan Versa, a 2007 White Dodge Charger, a blue Ford Mustang, and a tan color Toyota Sequoia in some of these events.

Anyone who believes they may have been a victim of this type of crime, or anyone with any information about these cases, or the identity of any of the outstanding suspects is urged to contact the Spring Valley Area Command Patrol Investigations Section at 702-828-2640. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers by phone at 702-385-5555.

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