SAN JOSE (CBS/AP) — Prosecutors in Santa Clara have charged 33 people in an alleged car crash scam that they say bilked insurance companies out of about $500,000.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office announced the charges on Thursday. Prosecutors say the defendants would intentionally crash older cars into each other between 2010 and 2012 to collect insurance payouts that in most cases amounted to the vehicles’ full value.

The charges follow a three-year, multi-agency investigation dubbed “coffee break” because prosecutors say the defendants would often claim they spilled coffee on themselves while driving, causing the crash.

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