Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
ST. GEORGE — A Hurricane man known for a popular YouTube channel called "Matt's Off Road Recovery" has been charged with insurance fraud and accused of fraudulently collecting money from AAA through his company, Winder Towing.
An arraignment is scheduled next week for Matthew David Wetzel, 46, who was charged in late October with one count of a false or fraudulent insurance claim, a second degree felony. The charges allege that AAA paid more than $15,000 to Winder Towing to cover claims with known misrepresentations for claims filed between January 2019 and August 2020.
The Utah Insurance Fraud Division received a complaint, and after an investigation it determined that many of the claims filed to AAA had material misrepresentations about the claimed services or towing locations, according to charging documents.
In one instance AAA covered three claims, totaling $2,800, for a vehicle tow to Salt Lake City, but the individual who submitted the claims admitted to the Utah Insurance Fraud Division that his vehicles were not towed, according to charging documents. Wetzel agreed to deliver construction material to the individual and the unnamed individual submitted claims to AAA instead of paying Wetzel directly, the charges state.
The investigator said Wetzel took responsibility for the false claims in a phone call, and said that in this instance he had provided towing services to the individual at separate times and Wetzel asked him to file a claim with AAA later instead of asking for payment or billing the individual at the time of service, according to the charges.
Wetzel also allegedly told the investigator that there were other instances where he would provide services and not immediately bill the person, then later Wetzel would ask them to submit a claim.
"Wetzel maintained he never turned in a job that did not have a legitimate service tied to it," the investigator said.
In another instance, charging documents allege that Wetzel helped with a tow for an individual who did not have an AAA membership. The filing claims Wetzel told the individual to obtain a membership, wait a few days, and then file a claim. Investigators say the claim that was filed was for a tow from Las Vegas to Washington County, when the charges claim the tow was actually from Apple Valley.
The third instance of fraud alleged in the charges was for an off-road tow of a Polaris RZR, which the document explained is not covered by AAA. Investigators said that the owner of the RZR used his friend's AAA membership and claimed that Wetzel's company towed a truck, rather than the RZR.
The document said that in this instance, video of the tow and Wetzel speaking to the owners was uploaded to Wetzel's YouTube channel, which shows videos of off-road tows.
The channel has almost 900,000 subscribers.