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YouTube Star from Matt’s Off-Road Recovery Guilty of Insurance Fraud?

  • Things To Know
  • Renee Martin
  • 5 minutes

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If you’re an off-roading fan, you probably know Matthew Wetzel from the YouTube channel Matt’s Off-Road Recovery. You may also know that he was charged with one second-degree felony count of insurance fraud at the end of 2021. Wetzel pleaded no contest to the charges and was sentenced to probation and fines from both the American Automobile Association and the state of Utah. But is that all there is to the story of Matt’s off-road recovery insurance fraud? We find out.¬†

Matt’s Off-Road Recovery YouTube Channel¬†

Matt Wetzel runs Matt’s Off-Road Recovery YouTube channel. The channel has approximately 900,000 subscribers on YouTube. Their videos mostly show the company hauling, recovering, and saving vehicles throughout southern Utah.¬†

Wetzel, with the assistance of friends and other guests, rescues off-roaders and even average folks from dangerous circumstances. The squad rescues everything Рfrom Jeeps and trucks to UTVs and even a plane with some cool rigs.  

However, Matt was recently charged with nearly $15,000 in car insurance fraud, a second-degree felony in Utah. Matt has asserted that each payment was for valid service. Even so, the dual business owner and YouTube hero is dealing with a difficult situation. 

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Matt’s off-road recovery lawsuit

So, what happened? How did this YouTube sensation from Utah face second-degree felony insurance fraud charges? 

When we examined the facts, it seems to be a typical instance of gaming the system. And getting caught at it! The three occurrences in The Drive all involve using AAA coverage in situations that are not suitable. 

Investigators looked into one report involving a Polaris RZR off-road vehicle towed from Sand Hollow State Park in April 2020. According to court records, Wetzel was shown pulling the car in a video of the tow posted to his YouTube channel. This is despite the fact that AAA’s policy does not cover off-road vehicle tows.¬†

According to court filings, the owner of the RZR informed an investigator that he used his friend’s AAA membership to cover the expense of the recovery. The records show that Winder Towing recovered the friend’s pickup rather than the RZR.¬†

Wetzel attempts to assist in the second event but with less than a perfect observance of the law. Wetzel saves a car for a driver who does not have AAA. The owner is then advised to join AAA and report the tow a few days later to recoup the fees. 

What’s the issue? The dates are incorrect, but the locations refer to tow from Las Vegas to Washington County rather than the initial journey from Apple Valley.¬†

Shady? True, but perhaps understandable. 

Finally, charging records reveal another instance in which AAA covered three claims for a tow to Salt Lake City. This amounted to $2,800. The individual who filed the claims confirmed to the Utah Insurance Fraud Division that their vehicles had not been towed. Instead, Wetzel is said to have provided building materials to the person who paid Wetzel through AAA rather than directly. 

Matt Wetzel’s side of the story¬†

When questioned, Wetzel concedes that the method was incorrect but that he was attempting to do the right thing. He is convinced that every charge was for good service, even if it wasn’t for a tow or on the appropriate day. According to one investigator, Wetzel believed that every trade that was a bit (or a lot) fraudulent was “bad on the front end, but fair on the back end.”¬†

What we have here is a typical instance of a man attempting to do the right thing but going about it incorrectly. We understand Wetzel’s point of view‚ÄĒproviding tows for cars that didn’t have full coverage and attempting to save them money by utilizing AAA’s responsive coverage rules. And it nearly worked.¬†

It would have been practically everything legal if it hadn’t been for the building delivery fees. The Polaris may have been an honest error on everyone’s part, serving as the initial event in a well-intended insurance fraud that got out of hand.¬†

How it ended 

On Feb. 22, Matthew Wetzel pled no contest to a false or fraudulent insurance claim, a class A misdemeanor, and will have to repay the money collected from the disputed claims. The charge is a lesser offense than the initial felony, and it entails probation rather than jail time. 

According to Wetzel’s attorney, Jason Velez, the plea indicates a disagreement over the method rather than the content of the accusations.¬†

Wetzel was sentenced to 18 months on probation and fines of $15,328 to AAA and $1,745 to Utah’s insurance fraud division by Fifth District Judge Jeffrey Wilcox.¬†

What Matt’s Off-Road Recovery story teaches us¬†

The moral of this story is to make sure you have adequate insurance coverage. And that you understand your policy before venturing out on the Utah jeep trails. Two out of three of these occurrences could have been avoided if the drivers had the appropriate coverage when they needed a tow. 

via GIPHY

Matt Wetzel is still on the air despite the insurance fraud event. He’s also¬†publishing new YouTube videos. Hopefully, he’s learned his lesson. If you uncover a loophole, don’t exploit it until you’re found.¬†

Do you need someone to have your back? Whether the everyday commute or taking on the dangerous offroad trails, Way.com can help you with roadside assistance that includes towing. Not just that, we’ll also help you find the best car insurance coverage in Utah.¬†¬†

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