APD: Man Purposely Caused Accidents, Committed Insurance Fraud

    ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Police say an Asheville man committed insurance fraud and intentionally caused traffic accidents in Buncombe County and other parts of the state.

    Byron Benson Fulghum Jr., 26, was involved in 14 accidents in Buncombe County since July 2012, according to police. They say he was in another six accidents in other parts of the state.

    On March 26, Detective Travis Barkley drove past an accident that caught his eye, but was already being worked by a fellow officer. Later that night, a friend approached him with a video of that same accident that he thought looked suspicious.

    The next morning, Barkley looked further into the video, uploaded under the name Ben Fulghum on YouTube. There, Barkley saw two more accident videos, one from January and another from March. Each of which were taken from a dashcam inside the vehicle -- and all looked suspicious, according to Barkley. The three crashes in 3 months led him to check Fulghum's driving record.

    "I saw he was involved in 14 accidents since July 2012 in Buncombe County alone," Barkley said.

    Barkley captured the videos from the YouTube site, which have all now been removed from Fulghum's channel.

    The following week, Asheville police executed a search warrant of Fulghum's residence on Sand Hill Road to check his camera and other digital files to see if there were other videos. He was eventually charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon (the automobile), two counts of reckless driving, and two counts of injury to personal property.

    A number of agencies have now gotten involved in the investigation, according to Barkley. Last week, the NC Department of Insurance charged Fulghum with six felony counts of insurance fraud. The investigation continues and more charges are possible, Barkley said.

    Fulghum made his first court appearance on the driving charges from APD last Wednesday. He was released on $10,000 bond, and a further court appearance was set for Aug. 13. Fulghum's court appearance for the fraud charges is scheduled for Aug. 4.

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