Crime Spree Terrorizes NICB Headquarters

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The following report is a spoof

DES PLAINES, IL – April 28, 2016 – A rash of burglaries at the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) headquarters in Des Plaines, Illinois has employees and management on high alert. Today, the not-for-profit organization pressed on with their annual “Take Your Kid To Work Day” despite the threat of crime sprees in various departments.

The theme for today’s event was “Law Enforcement” and newly released footage from the company’s headquarters proves that NICB will continue to combat crime and fraud.

Ferrari Found 29 Years After Being Stolen

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) was given exclusive access to a 1981 Ferrari GTSI recovered at the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach earlier this month.

To see the video report, click here.

The car, one of 1,743 of that model made in 1981, was stolen in 1987 from Newport Beach, Calif., while on consignment at a dealership. The vehicle identification number (VIN) was later switched to the VIN of a 1982 Ferrari that had already been exported to Norway in 2005. When the vehicle arrived at the port, it was headed from Texas to Poland.

Working with Customs and Border Protection, the California Highway Patrol and Ferrari representatives, NICB was able to determine the true identity of the car and to recover the original theft report filed with Newport Beach Police in 1987. NICB records showed only 12 stolen red Ferraris still unrecovered at this time.

 

Fraud Files: Severe Storms Slam the South

Enduring a hailstorm is challenging enough, but property owners must also understand that in the wake of a severe storm, they may be visited by unethical contractors posing as sincere repairmen. Often, these characters will descend on disaster areas and go door to door offering their repair services. Although most are honest, some are not. If the dishonest ones get your money in advance of performing any work, you’ll never see them or your money again.

NICB urges storm victims to work with their insurance company and to be careful in selecting a contractor to do repairs. Do not allow someone to force you into signing a contract or paying up front for work or supplies.

More consumer protection information is available here.

Over 45,000 Motorcycles Stolen in 2015

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) today released a report on motorcycle thefts in the United States for 2015.  A total of 45,555 motorcycles were reported stolen in 2015 compared with 42,856 reported stolen in 2014-an increase of six percent.

Motorcycle-RideMotorcycle thefts have been on a consecutive, nine-year decline going from 66,774 thefts in 2006 to 42,856 in 2014 for a drop of 36 percent. When we include 2015’s number, the decline is still a healthy 32 percent for the period.

The top 10 states with the most reported motorcycles thefts in 2015 were California (7,221), Florida (4,758), Texas (3,403), South Carolina (2,160), New York (1,902), North Carolina (1,866), Nevada (1,408), Georgia (1,393) Indiana (1,333), and Virginia (1,253).

The top 10 cities for motorcycle thefts in 2015 were New York (1,340), Las Vegas (1,042), San Francisco (729), San Diego (717), Miami (713), Houston (517), Los Angeles (486) San Antonio (431), Indianapolis (375), and Albuquerque, (373).

The top 10 most stolen motorcycles in 2015 by manufacturer were American Honda Motor Co., Inc. (8,674 thefts), Yamaha Motor Corporation (7,214), American Suzuki Motor Corporation (6,065), Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. (4,920), Harley Davidson, Inc. (4,416), Taotao Group Co. Ltd (2,757), KTM Sportmotorcycle AG (630), Astronautical Bashan (620), Jonway Group Co., Ltd. (520) and Kymco U.S.A., Inc. (512).

The most motorcycle thefts occurred in August (5,269) and the fewest in February (2,093) which continues to reflect a weather-influenced pattern that is consistent with previous years.

The complete report is available here or by pasting https://www.nicb.org/File%20Library/Public%20Affairs/2015-Motorcycle-Theft-ForeCAST.PDF  into your browser.

 

Hail Storm Slams Northern Texas

A storm rolled into Northern Texas Monday night and produced a destructive hail storm. The most significant damage occurred in Wylie, Texas near Dallas. As you can see below many homes, as well as vehicles, were damaged in this incident.

WylieHail1

Becoming a victim of a hail storm may be impossible to avoid. But you can avoid being victimized by dishonest contractors who often go door to door in damaged neighborhoods offering repair services. While many contractors are honest and reputable, others are not. Educate yourself against unscrupulous vendors. When contractors offer you their services, consult this checklist before becoming a customer.

  • Work with only licensed and insured contractors.
  • Get more than one estimate. Don’t be pushed into signing a contract right away.
  • Get everything in writing. Cost, work to be completed, time schedule, guarantees, payment schedule and other expectations should be detailed.
  • Require references, and check them out.
  • Ask to see the person’s driver’s license, and write it down. Also, get the vehicle’s license plate number.
  • Never sign a contract with blanks. Fraudulent contractors may enter unacceptable terms later.
  • Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until the work is completed.
  • Make sure you review and understand all documents sent to your insurance carrier
    WylieHail2

Man ID’s Stolen Truck on Craigslist

A Detroit man is accused of stealing a pickup truck and trying to sell it on Craigslist.

Aaron Lockridge allegedly stole and tried to sell a 2002 Ford F-350 on Craigslist.  Lockridge unknowingly sold the pickup to undercover detectives who had been tracking the stolen vehicle after a tip from the original owner.

The original owner contacted the Macomb Auto Theft Squad after he saw the truck listed for sale on Craigslist. Teaming with the Wayne County Auto Theft Team, undercover detectives posed as buyers and made a deal with the seller to buy the pickup for $8,000.

At an arranged meeting, Lockridge arrived in the stolen truck and was arrested. The seized F350 was re-tagged with a vehicle identification number belonging to a 2001 Ford F150 pickup.

Detectives searched the suspect’s home in Detroit where they recovered two stolen motorcycles and a stolen Chevrolet Trailblazer from a garage. The Trailblazer belonging to an active Marine who was away on duty.

 

How to Avoid Post-Disaster Scams

As Texas and parts of the South-Central U.S. recover from widespread flooding and hail damage, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reminds consumers to beware of buying flood-damaged vehicles and falling victim to unscrupulous home repair contractors.

The worst losses occurred in Texas where hail caused an estimated $600 million worth of insurance claims for damage to homes and autos.

Car Sales Fraud

As with all major natural disasters, NICB assists law enforcement agencies, insurance and car rental companies with identifying and cataloging water-damaged vehicles to keep them from being resold to unsuspecting consumers.

Already, authorities estimate that thousands of vehicles may have been flooded.

“NICB agents see it time after time. Natural disasters bring out dishonest salvage dealers who don’t tell you that the vehicles they’re selling are heavily water-damaged,” said NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle.

“Consumers need to know that these vehicles may appear advertised for sale without any indication that they were affected by the flooding. As always, buyers should be careful when considering a used vehicle purchase in the weeks and months following a disaster like this.”

To help avoid buying a vehicle that has been declared salvage (including flood-damaged vehicles), NICB recommends that buyers take advantage of its free online service called VINCheckSM. VINCheck contains vehicle data from insurance companies representing about 88 percent of the personal auto insurance market and lets buyers see whether a vehicle has ever been declared as “salvage” or a total loss. It also alerts users if a vehicle has been stolen and is still unrecovered.

Home Repair Fraud

In the weeks ahead, homeowners in disaster areas should be alert to the potential for fraud by unscrupulous contractors and home repair businesses.

Roofer“Fraud is an unfortunate reality in post-disaster environments,” said Wehrle. “As any recovery gets underway, fraudsters often converge on affected areas to scam disaster victims out of their money while promising to do repairs. The last thing victims of disaster need is to be victimized again.”

After a disaster, contractors often go door-to-door in affected neighborhoods offering clean up and/or construction and repair services. Most are reputable, but many are not. One common scheme is to pocket a down-payment and then never show up for the job, or never complete a job that was started. Another scheme is to use inferior materials and perform shoddy work that is not up to code in order to increase profit.

“If you didn’t request it, reject it”

Almost all of these scams are unsolicited—they begin with a visit from a contractor who seeks to help victims rebuild. That is why NICB recommends that “if you didn’t request it, reject it.” Before hiring any contractor, call your insurance company. Your insurance company will honor its policy so there is no need to rush into an agreement with a contractor who solicits your repair work—especially when you did not request it.

Unlike other states, Texas does not require a license for a roofing contractor nor is one required for solicitation. Local jurisdictions, however, may impose certain requirements before contractors can solicit work within their boundaries. One example is the City of Garland that requires anyone soliciting for the purpose of selling or offering to sell goods or services, must first retain a solicitation permit through the Garland Police Department.

NICB suggests you consider these tips before hiring a contractor:

  • Get more than one estimate
  • Get everything in writing. Cost, work to be done, time schedules, guarantees, payment schedules and other expectations should be detailed
  • Demand references and check them out
  • Ask to see the salesperson’s driver’s license and write down the license number and their vehicle’s license plate number
  • Never sign a contract with blanks; unacceptable terms can be added later
  • Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until the work is finished and ensure reconstruction is up to current code
  • Make sure you review and understand all documents sent to your insurance carrier
  • Never let a contractor pressure you into hiring them
  • Never let a contractor interpret the insurance policy language
  • Never let a contractor discourage you from contacting your insurance company

Consumer Resources

  • For a free brochure with tips to avoid post-disaster fraud, click here.
  • For useful checklists, including how to spot flood and salvage vehicle scams and post-disaster contractor repair schemes, click here.
  • For free consumer access to the vehicle salvage records of participating NICB member insurance companies who collectively provide 88 percent of the auto insurance in force today, access NICB’s VINCheck.

Cargo, Crime and Catastrophes….

In this edition of NICB News we head to Moore, Oklahoma and check on the rebuilding process three years after a tornado hit,  we also head to Texas to discuss cargo theft concerns and we report on organized crime ring issues in South Carolina.

Fraud Files: Financial and Medical Fraud Schemes

In this edition of Fraud Files we take a look at two schemes that occurred in New Jersey. One involving a financial scheme with auto loans and the other regarding medical fraud with a dishonest doctor.

The first part of the video describes how an owner of a used car dealership, along with three employees and a bookkeeper, were charged with conspiracy, money laundering, and other offenses in connection with bank financing scam that allegedly netted $1.4 million in fraudulent loans for luxury cars.

In the second half of the report, we tell the story of a family physician in New Jersey who was sentenced to 37 months in prison for defrauding Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance companies out $280,000.

Ohio Mutual Insurance Group Joins NICB

The Ohio Mutual Insurance Group (OMIG), a regional property and casualty insurer based in Bucyrus, Ohio, is the newest addition to the nearly 1,100 companies that are members of the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).

“We are proud to welcome Ohio Mutual as a partner in our efforts to fight insurance fraud and vehicle crime,” said NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle.

Mark C. Russell, who became president and CEO of the Ohio Mutual Insurance Group in January, said fighting fraud is a responsibility his organization takes very seriously.

“We owe it to our policyholders and business partners to defend against those who would try to commit fraud,” said Russell. “Today’s insurance fraud is sophisticated and complex and it requires a strong partnership with other insurers and law enforcement to combat it. NICB offers more than 100 years of experience to support our fraud investigators, and our participation as an active member of NICB will be an essential component of our fraud-fighting efforts going forward.”

Ohio Mutual Insurance Group, founded in 1901 with its home office in Bucyrus, Ohio, and a regional office in Saco, Maine, partners with nearly 400 independent agencies to distribute quality property and casualty insurance products throughout Connecticut, Indiana, Maine, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Ohio Mutual has maintained a rating of “A / Stable” from A.M. Best Co. for 23 consecutive years, and was named to the prestigious Ward’s 50 in 2009–2013. Additional company information is available at www.omig.com.

OhioMutualNICB