JUSTICE

Popular southern Utah YouTuber charged with insurance fraud

Dec 1, 2021, 7:23 PM
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:

Today’s Top Stories

Justice

Prosecutors seek 8-year prison term for police officer involved with Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol...
MICHAEL KUNZELMAN Associated Press

Feds seek 8-year prison term for officer who stormed Capitol

Prosecutors say former Rocky Mount Police Sgt. Thomas Robertson used his law enforcement training to block police officers who were trying to protect the Capitol from a mob’s attack on Jan. 6, 2021.
22 hours ago
James McConkie is pictured. The petito family filed a lawsuit against Moab Police...
Samantha Herrera

Family of Gabby Petito announces intent to file lawsuit against Moab Police

Gabby Petito's family alleges that the Moab City Police Department was negligent, and failed to protect Petito from Brian Laundrie.
22 hours ago
Kent Cody Barlow pleaded not guilty to three criminal charges Aug. 4....
Alejandro Lucero

Man accused of killing two kids in Eagle Mountain crash pleads not guilty

Kent Cody Barlow pleaded not guilty today to three criminal charges. The charges include manslaughter and drug possession.
5 days ago
Gabby Petitio Foundation donates $100,000 to the National Domestic Hotline...
BOBBY CAINA CALVAN Associated Press

Gabby Petito’s legacy: $100K for domestic violence hotline

The mother of Gabby Petito is keeping the memory of her murdered daughter alive by speaking out on behalf of domestic abuse survivors.
5 days ago
salt lake city murder victim blaire leavitt...
Amie Schaeffer

Suspect in 2019 murder arrested after ‘SWAT standoff’ in California

The suspect, 42-year-old Timote Fonua, is accused of one count of murder and one count of aggravated burglary in relation to Blaire Leavitt's 2019 murder.
11 days ago
Sesame Place lawsuit...
Associated Press

Black family sues Sesame Place, alleging discrimination

The Baltimore family said multiple costumed characters ignored a 5-year-old Black girl during a Sesame Place meet-and-greet event.
12 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Popular southern Utah YouTuber charged with insurance fraud