Utah YouTube star charged with insurance fraud

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HURRICANE, Utah (ABC4) – A Utah YouTube star is being charged with defrauding insurance company AAA.

The man has been identified as 46-year-old Matthew David Wetzel from Hurricane. Wetzel is most known for starring in a YouTube channel called, “Matt’s Off-Road Recovery,” a channel dedicated to, “off-road towing, recoveries, and rescues” in southern Utah near Zion National Park, which has 892,000 subscribers as of posting this story.

The case is being filed by the Washington County Department of Insurance Fraud Division.

The charges allege that Wetzel’s towing company, Winder Towing, which is an AAA-affiliated company, has been defrauding AAA by filing false towing claims. From Jan. 2019 to Aug. 2020, authorities say Wetzel knowingly engaged in fraudulent tow claims and rendered services that were paid for by AAA.

One instance involved three separate vehicles being towed to Salt Lake City. AAA paid Winder Towing $2,800 for the claimed tows. One of the individuals contacted by officials admits his car was never towed. That person claimed Wetzel told him to submit three tow claims to AAA instead of paying him for a construction material delivery, according to charging documents.

Another instance involved a man using Wetzel’s company to tow a truck from Apple Valley to Washington County. The person did not have a AAA membership at the time, but says Wetzel told him to join AAA and then file a towing claim a few days later, charging documents show.

A third instance involved Wetzel towing a Polaris RZR, an off-roading vehicle, from Sand Hollow State Park. This specific tow was filmed and uploaded onto Wetzel’s YouTube channel. AAA does not cover off-road vehicles. The vehicle owner admitted to using a friend’s AAA membership for the tow and then submitting a claim of using Wetzel’s company to bring the vehicle from Sand Hollow Park to Bluffdale, the charges allege.

“The IFD investigation discovered from January 2019 to August 2020, AAA paid over $15,000 to Winder Towing for claims that contained known material misrepresentations, such as claimed services and/or tow destinations,” according to court documents.

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