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Buffalo teen who claimed car was vandalized now accused of insurance fraud

Posted at 11:14 AM, Nov 10, 2020
and last updated 2021-11-01 16:23:04-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The teen who claimed his car was vandalized with racial and homophobic slurs in North Buffalo last month is now facing insurance fraud charges.

Officials say the 18-year-old faces a third degree insurance fraud charge, a class D felony, after he allegedly vandalized his own vehicle on October 15. He also faces three additional misdemeanor charges, he was arraigned virtually Tuesday morning.

EDITOR'S NOTE: 7 Eyewitness News identified the suspect in previous versions of this story. The suspect has since been granted youthful offender status. His name has been removed.

"It turns out that [redacted] did it himself," said Erie County District Attorney John Flynn. "He allegedly called the insurance company up to try to get a claim for the damage to his car."

The teen spoke with 7 Eyewitness News a day after his 2004 BMW was found on Saranac Avenue with racial and homophobic slurs painted on it and said at the time "I never thought that happens, I thought that was stuff that happened in movies."

The original Facebook post showing the vandalism was shared hundreds of times, with many comments alleging the damage was staged, by the teen himself. Something he rejected when speaking with 7 Eyewitness News at the time.

"Who would do that to their own vehicle?" he asked, "Who does that? Nobody does that to their own car. How are you going to get around now if you do that to your car?"

But prosecutors say that's exactly what he did.

Police say it was then, a week later, the teen was observed by Buffalo Police leaving a running car unattended on Erskine Ave. Police say when they caught up with him, he was found to be driving without a license and had two loaded and illegal firearms on him.

He was released on his own recognizance for the insurance fraud charges, and released on bail for the gun charges.

The teen is due back in court January 11.