Popular southern Utah YouTuber charged with insurance fraud

Dec 1, 2021, 7:23 PM | Updated: Dec 30, 2022, 11:21 am
youtuber insurance fraud...
(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

WASHINGTON COUNTY – A popular YouTuber from southern Utah is being charged with insurance fraud. Prosecutors claim he charged AAA for towing jobs that either never happened, or shouldn’t have. 

Matt Wetzel’s YouTube channel, “Matt’s Off Road Recovery,” has over 800 thousand subscribers. He has posted over 300 videos of pulling stranded vehicles out of sand, mud, and water all over southern Utah. 

Charging documents state Wetzel used his towing service to collect money from AAA that he shouldn’t have received.

Former prosecutor Kent Morgan, who is not connected to this case, said prosecutors usually take an insurance company’s claims of fraud with a grain of salt.

“There are certain people who are constantly in civil litigation who will attempt to use prosecution as a tool to enhance their pressure in a civil case,” Morgan said.  “Good prosecutions look at those allegations very skeptically.”

The fraud case against YouTuber Wetzel

In this case, prosecutors felt there was enough evidence to charge Wetzel with insurance fraud, a second-degree felony.  The statement says Wetzel took over $2,800 for four tows between May 2019 and June 2020. But the vehicle’s owner said they were not taken to Salt Lake City, as Wetzel claimed. 

Prosecutors also claim Wetzel towed a vehicle for someone who wasn’t covered by AAA. They say he advised the owner to become a member then make their claim a few days after. 

Wetzel is also accused of charging AAA for towing a Polaris RZR in April 2020, even though the insurance company doesn’t cover off-road vehicles.

Wetzel reportedly spoke to investigators with the Utah Insurance Fraud Division in December 2020 and took responsibility for those claims.  However, the statement says Wetzel told the investigators the deals were “wrong on the front end, but fair on the back.” 

Morgan said this statement adds a new wrinkle to the investigation.

“His statement that they weren’t ‘wrong’ mitigates his admission.”

Morgan believes this claim may establish a defense strategy where Wetzel’s attorneys could argue that the claims were not made in an attempt to take money unfairly.  Morgan said it will be up to the judge to decide if this is a criminal case, or if it belongs in civil court.

“If I were the defense attorney,” Morgan said, “that’s what I would be arguing, that a civil case has been escalated into a criminal case.”

Police documents show that AAA paid Wetzel over $15,000 for towing jobs that were based on “known material misrepresentations” between January 2019 and August 2020.

Other reading:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Crime, Police + Courts

Salt Lake City Police say three sticks of dynamite were safely removed from a house this week by it...
Mark Jones

Three sticks of dynamite removed from Salt Lake City home

Three sticks of dynamite were removed from a Salt Lake City home on Wednesday, the SLCPD announced. The dynamite have been seized for investigation.
20 hours ago
Britt Johnson

Utah County men facing charges for defrauding the United States

The claims state that Zachary Bassett and Mason Warr used a fraudulent tax scheme to receive COVID-19-related relief funds.
20 hours ago
Rep. Kera Birkeland, R-Morgan, sponsor of HB297 Victim Services Amendments, poses for a portrait at...
Katie McKellar, Deseret News

A Utah lawmaker and her sister at odds: Should rape victims need to contact police before getting an abortion?

Rep. Kera Birkeland says her bill focuses on rape victim services and holding rapists accountable. But her sister, a rape survivor, says it strips away choices.
20 hours ago
On Jan. 31, 2023, a missing Arizona girl was found and rescued from the basement of a registered se...
Elizabeth Weiler

Missing girl from Arizona found in West Valley basement

On Jan. 31, 2023, a missing Arizona girl was found and rescued from the basement of a registered sex offender. 
20 hours ago
Police arrested a man in Washington County on suspicion of human trafficking a child on Thursday. ...
Hugo Rikard-Bell, Mark Jackson, Adam Small

UHP arrests man suspected of trafficking New England teen

Court documents show that the UHP pulled over Tevon Jarrell Cullors-Tillman after his car was spotted driving erratically.
20 hours ago
A federal law that prohibits people subject to domestic violence restraining orders from possessing...
Tierney Sneed, CNN

Court says gun law targeting domestic violence suspects is unconstitutional

 (CNN) — A federal law that prohibits people subject to domestic violence restraining orders from possessing firearms is unconstitutional, a conservative-leaning appeals court ruled Thursday. The ruling is the latest significant decision dismantling a gun restriction in the wake of the Supreme Court’s expansion of Second Amendment rights last year in the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. […]
20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Popular southern Utah YouTuber charged with insurance fraud