May 19, 2022

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Utah star of ‘Matt’s Off-Road Recovery’ on YouTube charged with insurance fraud

A Hurricane man who runs a Youtube channel about off-road towing has been charged with a second-degree felony count of insurance fraud, according to court documents filed in late October.

Matthew Wetzel, 45, runs Matt’s Off-Road Recovery, a towing service in Hurricane. Its YouTube account has nearly 900,000 subscribers for videos that show the company towing, recovering and rescuing vehicles across southern Utah.

Wetzel’s company, Winder Towing, is an affiliate of AAA, court documents said, a national not-for-profit that provides emergency road services, insurance and other services to members. His company allegedly filed “numerous claims” that contained “material misrepresentations” to AAA from January 2019 to August 2020, fraud investigators from the state’s Insurance Department said in the documents.

The investigation discovered that AAA paid over $15,000 to the company for claims that contained “known material misrepresentations” over that time period, court documents allege.

One claim examined by investigators involved a Polaris RZR off-road vehicle towed from Sand Hollow State Park in April 2020. In a video of the tow posted to Wetzel’s YouTube channel, he was seen hauling the vehicle, court documents said — noting that AAA’s policy does not cover off-road vehicle tows.

The owner of the RZR told an investigator that he used his friend’s AAA membership to cover the cost of the recovery, court documents said. The claim filed with AAA said Winder Towing rescued the friend’s truck, instead of the RZR, the documents said.

An investigator spoke with Wetzel by phone on Dec. 7, 2020, and Wetzel took responsibility for the claims sent to AAA, court documents said. Wetzel said the claims were “wrong on the front end, but fair on the back,” documents said. He explained that in one case questioned by investigators, he had provided “numerous services” to the customer before asking the man to make a claim to AAA.

Wetzel described “similar arrangements” involving other customers, where the company would perform work but not immediately bill the person or AAA; then he would later ask the customer to turn in a claim to cover the services Winder Towing had provided. Wetzel stated he never turned in a job claim that did not have a “legitimate service” tied to it, according to court documents.

Wetzel is cooperating with the Attorney General’s office to “clear up any potential misunderstanding” that has resulted in the current charges, according to a statement from his attorney.