• May 15, 2010

The major recession that began in 2008 has had a profound effect on the auto industry, and even insurance companies have paid a heavy price for the downturn. While legitimate insurance claims have shrunken a bit since fewer jobs mean fewer motorists on the road, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) claims that fraudulent claims from staged accidents jumped 46 percent from 2007 to 2009.

While we're sure there are a lot of folks out there who aren't too fond of insurance companies, staged accidents are different in that they involve innocent victims who were otherwise obeying the law. Worse, these accidents could result in injuries or even death. In a press release (available after the jump), the NICB calls staged accidents "dangerous criminal events that target innocent drivers with increasingly bold schemes aimed at defrauding insurance companies out of millions of dollars."

Florida leads all states in staged accidents by a large margin, with 3,006 in 2009. New York came in second with 1,680, followed by California, Texas and Illinois. New York City is the top offender by city, but Florida again leads with three offending cities in the top five. The NICB created seven videos demonstrating some of the many techniques criminals use staged accidents to bilk insurance companies. They're not particularly high-quality, but they do get the message across.

[Source: NICB]
Show full PR text
DES PLAINES, Ill., May 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The latest report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) shows that staged accident questionable claims (QC) increased 46 percent from 2007 through 2009. Additionally, the ratio of staged accident QCs to overall bodily injury (BI) and personal injury protection (PIP) claims has increased over this period while the total number of BI and PIP claims has declined.

The top five states that generated the most staged accident QCs were: (1) Florida, 3,006; (2) New York, 1,680; (3) California, 1,619; (4) Texas, 792; and (5) Illinois, 433.

The five cities that generated the most staged accident QCs were: (1) New York City, 1,304; (2) Tampa, 562; (3) Miami, 511; (4) Orlando, 422; and (5) Houston, 376.

Staged accidents are dangerous criminal events that target innocent drivers with increasingly bold schemes aimed at defrauding insurance companies out of millions of dollars. Unless someone becomes suspicious, many of these staged accidents go undetected. NICB has created a series of videos demonstrating some of the most common types of staged accidents. They can be viewed here: https://www.nicb.org/multimedia/staged-videos/staged-accident-videos.

Consumers should visit https://www.nicb.org/theft_and_fraud_awareness/brochures to review our library of valuable theft and fraud awareness information where they can find a specific brochure describing staged accident fraud. It's free and it just might help prevent you from falling victim to fraud scams.

The complete staged accident questionable claims report is also available at www.nicb.org.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 31 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      toyota unintended acceleration sounds about right. espically damn near every case affecting a senior citizen. hmm.... that guy in cali is a prime example.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Indeed. It's always on my mind. I always keep a pretty decent following distance (to the great annoyance of many of my passengers), but I'm often wonder whether if the guy/gal who nearly cut me off to "make a right turn" is one of these "swoop and squat" guys or just an idiot who can't plan their driving properly. In Florida, it's probably the latter, but now I know I should also be looking for the former as well.
        • 4 Years Ago
        This happened to a friend. He "rear-ended" a car on an LA freeway, one containing a large number of people, recent immigrants. My friend was upset he'd harmed these nice people, until the state trooper opened the trunk of the car. It was filled with pillows, which the trooper said was an unmistakeable sign of a scam. Apparently they the participants think that pillows in the trunk somehow protects them.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The problem I sometimes have with keeping a decent following distance is that in heavier, more aggressive traffic, less courteous individuals will sometimes skip the long line at the off ramp, for example, and decide to drive all the way to the front of the line and cut in, or pull the whole "oh I'm new to the area and almost missed my exit - could I please get in front of you?" even though they obviously know full well what they're doing.

        Or in stop and go traffic, as you describe, some less enlightened drivers will aggressively change lanes to get 1-2 inches of further progress, usually viewing the space you have in front of you as a great spot for them to swing into, greatly closing the following distance you had carefully been maintaining.

        That's what really concerns me about these sort of accidents - it could so easily happen to anyone, and has almost happened to me several times (although I don't think it was the scam variety - just the stupid person variety)
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'm not as vigilant as I should be about keeping enough following distance to avoid things like this happening especially at highway speeds. I need to do a much better job at watching what is happening around me.

        Now at stop and go traffic in the city, I do keep a good distance between myself and the car in front of me.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is (just a small slice) of what we get for having family reunification being an objective of our immigration policy. I'd bet for every computer programmer or scientist that we actually need we also get 5 Id thieves, insurance scammers, medicare fraudsters, etc.

      Neg me if you want but anyone here who has had any significant exposure to immigrants from the former Soviet Union knows this is true. Apparently they are 'refugees' because criminals are 'persecuted' over there.....
        • 4 Years Ago
        As someone who personally knows a lot of clean cut russian programmers, i think your statements are ridiculous and even racist. Im sure there's scammers from other countries that outnumber the people from the former USSR.
      • 4 Years Ago
      For what it's worth: I have been hearing for years from different people in the Russian community about this scam being carried out (by crafty and legal Russian immigrants).

      First, it was only one or two people in the car. They were friends with doctors (also Russian) and had the doctors report fraudulent injuries and treatments; later both the scammer and the doctor got kickbacks from the insurance payments. Then, the scammers got greedy and started filling up the cars, which, happening to often, ticked off the insurance companies.

      Urban legend or not, but like I said, I have heard this from different people in the Russian community about Russian immigrants. So take it as you will.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I guess upgrading brakes suddenly went up my priority list.

      ....and yes, I like to keep a good distance between me and the car ahead of me, depending on the speed of traffic.
      • 4 Years Ago
      And those figures are probably under reported.
      I was a victim of this scam several years ago and because my insurance company had no interest in pursuing the matter, they just paid up and I got 5 points on my license.

      Bastards.

      I called the state body to investigate and they did nothing about it, even after coming to inspect my car and noting that there was no damage. The scammers have pictures of alternate damaged cars, fake garage bills and fake doctors notes. How can you win without giving up your day job and hunting them full time?
      • 4 Years Ago
      The videos are here..

      http://multivu.prnewswire.com/mnr/nicb/43814/

      If you ask me these videos will help train a few more fraudsters...

      Better to provide tips to avoid such scams...

      * If you’re in an accident, call the police immediately.
      * Report accident claims to your insurance company. Don’t settle on site with cash.
      * Be careful with your personal information, mindful of identity theft.
      * If you can, photograph the car and passengers and write down names, addresses, and phone numbers.
      * Use medical, car repair, and legal professionals you know and trust.
      * Don’t tail gate … drive safely.

      • 4 Years Ago
      Keep in mind these are only the FAILED scam accidents. I bet there are plenty more successful insurance scams than there are failed, and thoae probably went up by a larger margin.
      • 4 Years Ago
      As someone who lives in Orlando Florida and who has a family member as an attorney that practices insurance defense (mostly medical malpractice, but lots of auto as well) I'll state the obvious that you don't want to hear:

      But, before I do - go read the DHS 2006 (I believe it's the latest) report on illegal immigrants by state. It's here, on page 4.

      http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/statistics/publications/ill_pe_2006.pdf

      Guess what? California, Texas, Florida, Illinois, New York.

      That's the same top 5 as staged accidents.

      I'm not illegal immigrant bashing (though, why not?) - I suppose you can argue that it's just a population based coincidence (large pop states presumably=statistically large pop illegal immigrants) but I'm telling you as a matter of observation, both as a citizen on the ground in state #1 and with an attorney at a sizable defense firm that works these cases everyday - it's mostly, by far, illegals doing it.

      Gives a whole new perspective on "doing the jobs Americans won't do".

      My .02. Go ahead, rate me down for it.
        • 4 Years Ago
        As someone who lives in NY I can agree that many illegal immigrants are a nuisance on the road. A lot of them don't have licenses and when they get in an accident there's no one to pay up. I know people that have been hit by them and it's always just sheer cases of stupidity where they pay up.

        With the way that NYers are(jerks) I'm not surprised that we're high up on the list of scams. I also doubt illegal immigrants would be part of this out of fear of dealing with the authorities and our legal system. They understand they aren't supposed to be here and that many people don't want them here, so they try to mind their business and keep to themselves.
        • 4 Years Ago
        okay
        first of all, if illegal immigrants were involved in an accident, it wouldn't be counted in the statistics. They would be immediately shipped off the U.S.
        Secondly, does the word illegal mean anything to you? they can't get license which means they can't get insurance.
        I don't know about other states, but I know it is illegal to drive without insurance let alone drivers license.
        Finally, I will rate you down for it because you know and I know that you are being biased and giving wrong informations by merging two irrelevant facts which is just "coincidence"
        • 4 Years Ago
        Oh.....my.....god........
        Please tell me you are under age of 15 ... PLEASE!!!!
        It is a waste of my electricity to spend time and explain how deeply disturbed you are.
        I suggest you go bring your "argument"(if we can call it that)to your parents or any sensible associates in your life and see how they react to it.

        p.s. A human being must be able to accept and improve.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Rich: "What a preposterous argument. Correlation is not causation."

        What a preposterous response; while correlation does not prove causation, it's standard scientific practice to use it as an indicator when building a hypothesis.

        Please feel free to politically-correctly ignore the obvious, but leave the rest of us to act intelligently.


        • 4 Years Ago
        @Monkeybear: "Secondly, does the word illegal mean anything to you? they can't get license which means they can't get insurance.I don't know about other states, but I know it is illegal to drive without insurance let alone drivers license."

        You are correct - with no license, and no insurance, and laws against driving without both, we can be certain that there are not any illegal aliens actually driving.

        Just as well, we also have laws that require immigrants to the country to apply, take medical examinations, background checks, maintain work/temp visas until permanent status is achieved, etc. With all those laws, we can be certain that there aren't any persons in the country illegally either.

        Please let us know when you reach reality, we'll be happy to show you around when you get here.







        (ps - great nick!)
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Monkeybear:"p.s. A human being must be able to accept and improve."

        I prefer those who _choose_ to.

        "Oh.....my.....god........"

        Love that little g. Says a lot about a person - don't you think?

        Cheers!
        • 4 Years Ago
        What a preposterous argument.

        Correlation is not causation.

        • 4 Years Ago
        Well, duh it's the illegal immigrants that are *caught* doing it, because they don't have doctor friends to give them a neck brace and a note, or access to a good attorney that will win their case regardless of its legitimacy.

        I'm sure there's underreporting on the number of staged "accidents" going on, and I'd bet a fair number of those that go unreported are the ones staged by deeply-indebted middle class folks who are well-connected enough to pull it off--think Jim Sykes and his Prius.

        Having spent many years in California, I'd say you're free to bash illegals all you want as long as you're happy to pay U.S. citizens $5.00/hr and no vacation time to do tough-ass menial jobs... or to pay twice as much for produce and a number of other goods and services. And given Americans' buying habits, I'm guessing the latter isn't happening anytime soon.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @PJ "You have legislation, background checks, and visa requirements on one side, and your beloved "free market" on the other."

        Errr, wrong - the "free market" doesn't provide for some businesses being allowed to skirt the law while the rest of us have to play fair. What we have is a failure to enforce existing immigration laws on one side and a failure to enforce existing legal hiring practices on the other.

        The former should be sent packing to the back of the legal immigration process line. The latter should have their businesses and all related properties and derived monies seized under RICO statutes. And those business owners and execs who knowingly participated should be prosecuted for tax evasion, money laundering, wire fraud, theft, etc.

        Don't for a second think I'm not hard on the employers who are taking advantage of both the US and the illegals. If a workplace ICE raid takes out one illegal, they should be carting off at least one white-collar exec in handcuffs as well.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @iBran: "As it has already been mentioned, illegals can't get insurance."
        I'm not sure what fantasy land you live in, but please confine your comments of it to that world, instead of this one. They just don't apply in the real world.

        "We're here to talk about cars"
        Correct, that's what we are doing...

        "...not your political and racial agenda."
        How did illegal aliens - read: persons in the United States illegally - transpose into "racial"?

        Methinks you just gave away who the real racist is.
        • 4 Years Ago
        notYou,

        I'm not sure what the economy is like in Florida, but it sounds like you might be amazed just how many native-born U.S. citizens in California are happy to take advantage of illegal immigrants' desperation for work to contribute to their (usually agriculture) firm's profits. Those illegals don't create U.S. jobs out of farts and fairy dust, you know.

        You have legislation, background checks, and visa requirements on one side, and your beloved "free market" on the other.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Is it considered "staged" if I slam on my brakes to avoid getting tagged by a red-light camera?
        • 4 Years Ago
        No, that's a "victory" of automated "traffic safety" devices.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The only thing I can think of more vile than traffic control cameras are people in congress or the senate. All should be pushed into a septic tank.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I know that these insurance scams are sometimes run by an...organized group of people who pay the "victims" to do the job. Usually the victims are people desperate for cash since getting yourself into a car accident isn't usually people's first choice of occupation. Sometimes they'll purposely crash cars that would be highly valuable in good condition-like a luxury vehicle-but that has really bad mechanical problems that make it worthless. By totaling those vehicles you get a big payout for a what's basically junk.
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