Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Drivers beware: Latest insurance scam could cost you
Oct 7th 2009 at 5:45PM
Crooks really don't know any bounds to how low they can go. Video aired on Good Morning America showing members of an insurance fraud ring setting up motorists -- mainly women -- for collisions is a demonstration of the depths they are willing to plumb.
The crooks stage accidents that make the victim look to be at fault and then, working with doctors who write up bogus medical reports, they go on to collect big insurance payouts. Video footage of the scammers in action shows just how devious the criminals are and how reckless they are with other people's lives. What's scarier, according to the report, is this type of crime appears to be on the increase.
In one incident caught on tape, a white SUV idles in front of a driveway to a parking lot on a busy street. As a woman in an oncoming vehicle looks to make a left turn into the lot from the other side of the road, the idling motorist waves that it's OK to turn. But when the woman starts to turn, the once idling SUV pulls forward, forcing her to stop halfway into the opposing traffic lanes. By then, the SUV driver had already signaled with his brake lights to an accomplice in another car that it was time. The accomplice then barrels down the road and rams the woman's car. The SUV that started the whole incident, drives away.
That scenario -- with the same white SUV playing the same role -- was also captured by security cameras on another occasion. None of the crooks in those Los Angeles crashes were arrested, according to the report.
USAA, an insurance company that caters to military members and their families, also demonstrated some less complex accidents that are not accidents at all, but rather insurance fraud set-ups. In one such scam, the crook drives in front of the victim and suddenly hits the brakes, causing the victim to rear-end them. In each case, the target -- typically women driving alone -- appears to be the cause of the accident.
Fraudulent and "abusive" insurance claims lead to between $4.8 billion and $6.8 billion in added payouts each year, according to the Insurance Research Council. An estimated one in 10 claims is fraudulent, according to insurance industry research.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau, which also works for the insurance industry, has an anti-fraud toll-free hotline (800-835-6422) for anyone with information about an insurance fraud that has taken place. Some callers could be eligible for rewards.