Fraud Files: Arizona Man Files Over 110 Fraudulent Claims in Two Years

In this edition of Fraud Files we focus on an Arizona man who was arrested and charged with allegedly filing over 110 fraudulent insurance claims over a two-year span. Marcel Deweaver was charged with allegations of fraud schemes, theft, insurance fraud and identity theft and is awaiting trial.

To view more episodes of Fraud Files click here.

NICB Wins ACE Award for Best Small Communications Team

Congratulations to our Communications department as they were announced as a winner in the 2015 ACE Awards. The goal of the ACE Award is to honor the individuals, agencies and teams in PR and marketing who, day in and day out, are THE BEST. They begin and end each day at the top. The award was given to the group under the Small Communications Team category for their work in the following videos:

Hurricane Katrina: 10 Years Later

Corvette Purchased with Phony Bank Check in Craigslist Scam

46 Years Later Omaha Man is Reunited with Stolen Motorcycle

The following quote is the write-up from the judges at Ragan’s Communications.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau promotes its activities with compelling, entertaining and (most important) share-worthy videos. Only three people work on these videos: One staff member handles research, writing, and interview scheduling; another handles graphics; and a third is the on-screen face and voice of the organization. Together, this bare-bones team has produced videos you can’t stop watching. These videos tell the story of how the Crime Bureau has helped insured individuals recovering from Hurricane Katrina avoid car sales scams on CraigsList, and much more. One video tells the tale of returning a stolen motorcycle to its owner years after its theft. Viewers are entertained while they learn about Crime Bureau innovations, such as the Vehicle Identification Number Check used to help identify owners of cars swept up in Katrina.

Honorable mentions in this category

  • Chartway Federal Credit Union
  • WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease
  • Chapman University Office of Communications and Media Relations

AceAwards2015

Police Bust International Luxury Carjacking Ring

Authorities in New Jersey charged 21 people in connection with an international carjacking and stolen car trafficking ring that allegedly involved stealing luxury cars and shipping them across the country and to West Africa. The 16-month long investigation called Operation 17 Corridor recovered just over 90 stolen vehicles.

“The criminals in this ring scouted golf courses, pricey restaurants, malls and suburban driveways to find the specific luxury cars they coveted, working in teams to commit armed carjackings and other thefts,” stated New Jersey Attorney General John J. Hoffman. “While fortunately we have not had anyone shot or murdered during a carjacking in this case, we’ve seen in other cases how quickly things can turn deadly when carjackers carry out the type of armed ambushes this ring committed. We’ve completely dismantled this dangerous network and charged its members with first-degree crimes.”

Over $4 million in stolen vehicles were taken from communities in North and Central Jersey and shipped to West Africa. Members of the theft crew stored the vehicles at locations including short-term airport parking garages, housing complexes, warehouses and shipping containers to make sure tracking devices would not lead law enforcement to the ring.

The stolen vehicles were then sold domestically as well as shipped internationally to Ghana, Nigeria, Guinea, and Gambia, where vehicles of these types sell for prices in excess of three times the market value in the United States.

To view more episodes of Fraud Files click here.

NICB Wins W³ Award for Cloned Vehicle Story

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 8.59.37 AMCongratulations are in order to the NICB Communications department as they were awarded the W³ Silver Award in the Online Video – Public Service category for their cloned vehicle report. The video describes how an innocent woman in Lancaster, WI bought a used GMC Denali for $30,000 and for the last two years she has been enjoying its use. However a Carfax search found out the Denali was currently registered in Massachusetts and her car is a clone.

Investigation by NICB quickly revealed that the vehicle in Peabody was the legitimate vehicle and that the one in Lancaster was most likely a stolen vehicle. The vehicle owner in Lancaster was contacted and agreed to bring her Denali to the police department for an inspection. NICB Senior Special Agent Larry Burzynski confirmed that it was a stolen vehicle taken from Palm Beach County, Fla., in 2007.

Fortunately for the clone buyer, Wisconsin state law mandates that all new and used car dealers be licensed and bonded. If law enforcement confiscates a vehicle from an individual who purchased the vehicle from a dealer, then the dealer must make the buyer whole again. Since the buyer in this case bought the clone from a dealer and it was confiscated by law enforcement, she will not suffer any financial loss from the transaction. But in most other states, this same situation could result in the complete loss of a buyer’s investment.

In its tenth year the W³ Awards received over 5,000 entries from Ad agencies, Public Relations Firms, Interactive Agencies, In-house creative professionals, Web Designers, Graphic Designers and Web Enthusiasts.

The Powers Behind the W³:

The W³ is sanctioned and judged by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts (AIVA).

The AIVA is an invitation-only body consisting of top-tier professionals from a “Who’s Who” of acclaimed media, interactive, advertising and marketing firms. AIVA members include executives from organizations such as Agencynet, AvatarLabs, Big Spaceship, Brandweek, Code and Theory, Disney, HBO, Microsoft, Monster.com, MTV, Sesame Workshop, Victoria’s Secret, Wired, and Yahoo!. For more information, and a full member roster, please visit www.aiva.org.

Hurricane Katrina 10 Years Later: Coast to Coast Impact – Part 4

Today’s video segment shows how in the weeks and months after Katrina, NICB agents were finding vehicles damaged by floodwaters for sale from New York to California. These potential coffins on wheels were just waiting to be purchased by unsuspecting consumers.

To view the other parts of this series click here.

Hurricane Katrina 10 Years Later: Vehicle Identification – Part 3

Recognizing the unprecedented number of vehicles that were flooded or otherwise damaged from Katrina, NICB dispatched teams to the region and established the Gulf Coast Task Force (GCTF) which operated from two locations: Baton Rouge, La. and Mobile, Ala. Over the next several months, NICB personnel from all over the United States were rotated through the GCTF where they worked side-by-side with state and local law enforcement officers in identifying and cataloging the thousands of damaged vehicles that littered every part of New Orleans and Mobile—and most points in between—in Nature’s random display of destruction.

Today’s video covers the challenges and creativity applied to the tremendous task of identifying damaged vehicles.

NICB and Hurricane Katrina: A 10-Year Retrospective Part Two

CarpenterKatrinaQuoteEach day this week the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) will release segments of a five-part documentary video that provides first-hand recollections of NICB employees and law enforcement personnel as they reflect on their roles in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Recognizing the unprecedented number of vehicles that were flooded or otherwise damaged from Katrina, NICB dispatched teams to the region and established the Gulf Coast Task Force (GCTF) which operated from two locations: Baton Rouge, La. and Mobile, Ala. Over the next several months, NICB personnel from all over the United States were rotated through the GCTF where they worked side-by-side with state and local law enforcement officers in identifying and cataloging the thousands of damaged vehicles that littered every part of New Orleans and Mobile—and most points in between—in Nature’s random display of destruction.

Today’s video segment illustrates how NICB’s established operations centers and got down to work.

Video release schedule:

Monday: Part 1: Multistate Devastation

Tuesday, Part 2: NICB’s Initial Response

Wednesday, Part 3: Vehicle Identification

Thursday, Part 4: Coast to Coast Impact

Friday, Part 5: Birth of VINCheck

Hurricane Katrina: A 10-Year Retrospective

Katrina10YearsBeginning today—and every day this week—the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) will release segments of a five-part documentary video that provides first-hand recollections of NICB employees and law enforcement personnel as they reflect on their roles in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Video release schedule:

Monday, Part 1: Multistate Devastation

Tuesday, Part 2: NICB’s Initial Response

Wednesday, Part 3: Vehicle Identification

Thursday, Part 4: Coast to Coast Impact

Friday, Part 5: Birth of VINCheck

Widespread destruction, NICB responds

While Katrina impacted parts of Alabama, Florida and Mississippi, its most widespread destruction occurred in Louisiana in and around New Orleans. After making landfall on August 29, 2005, Katrina’s heavy rainfall and significant storm surge caused breaches in a number of the levees protecting New Orleans from Lake Pontchartrain. As a result of those levee failures, roughly 80 percent of New Orleans was underwater by August 31.

In terms of property damage, Hurricane Katrina was the most costly on record with insured losses estimated at over $41 billion*. Part of that figure came from insurance claims on more than 300,000 vehicles damaged or destroyed by Katrina—vehicles that presented an attractive opportunity for fraud.

KatrinaFloodedVehiclesRecognizing the unprecedented number of vehicles that were flooded or otherwise damaged from Katrina, NICB dispatched teams to the region and established the Gulf Coast Task Force (GCTF) which operated from two locations: Baton Rouge, La. and Mobile, Ala. Over the next several months, NICB personnel from all over the United States were rotated through the GCTF where they worked side-by-side with state and local law enforcement officers in identifying and cataloging the thousands of damaged vehicles that littered every part of New Orleans and Mobile—and most points in between—in Nature’s random display of destruction.

As the vehicle inventory process took shape, GCTF personnel had some time to pursue allegations of insurance fraud which NICB was receiving on its hotline almost from the moment Katrina made landfall. Even as search and recovery efforts were underway, some saw opportunity to exploit tragedy for personal and illicit gain. NICB investigated everything from bogus claims for flooded vehicles that were nowhere near the storm area to yachts being scuttled by their owners, but blamed on Katrina so they could collect an insurance payoff.

The birth of VINCheck

VINCheckTo prevent unsafe flood vehicles from entering the commerce stream disguised as legitimate used vehicles, NICB created the “Katrina Flood Vehicle Database.” This database was populated with the vehicle identification numbers (VINs) of every Katrina-damaged vehicle that was insured by one of NICB’s 1,100 member insurance companies. Although initially developed to more efficiently share data with law enforcement, state fraud bureaus, motor vehicle departments and insurance companies, NICB realized that allowing consumers to have free access to this data was the best way to help them protect themselves from making an expense—and potentially life-threatening—flood vehicle purchase.

Within two months of Katrina’s landfall, The Katrina Flood Vehicle Database was opened to the public. As this free consumer protection grew in popularity and usage, its name evolved into VINCheck. With the new name and with the cooperation of participating insurance companies, VINCheck not only identified flood vehicles, but any vehicle that had been declared a total loss, salvage, or was an unrecovered stolen vehicle.

Since its creation, VINCheck has been the most visited page on the NICB.org website. From January 1, 2009, through December 31, 2014, more than 5 million VINs have been searched through VINCheck. From those queries, 48,442 theft records and 507,110 salvage records were identified meaning that VINCheck may have saved thousands of innocent consumers from experiencing significant financial losses—or worse.

The hurricanes of 2005, of which Katrina was the Queen of Destruction, challenged all levels of government as well as state and local law enforcement, the insurance industry and disaster relief agencies. The lessons learned from Katrina helped government and non-government officials deal with another mega storm when 2012’s Sandy devastated the Eastern Seaboard and other inland areas.

While natural disasters are an unfortunate reality of life we can understand them. To some extent, we can prepare for them and mitigate their damage. But when ill-intentioned people use these events to commit fraud against a population already reeling from a disaster, they will eventually attract law enforcement’s attention with NICB agents at their side.

As we did after Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Ike, and Sandy, NICB’s nationwide distribution of investigative and analytical resources are poised to deter, detect and defeat acts insurance fraud that would cause further harm to the legitimate victims of catastrophes.

*The Insurance Fact Book, 2015, p. 148, Insurance Information Institute, New York.

NICB and Hurricane Katrina: 10 Years Later

Beginning next Monday—and every day that week—the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) will release segments of a five-part documentary video that provides first-hand recollections of NICB employees and law enforcement personnel as they reflect on their roles in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Video release schedule:

Monday, Part 1: Multistate Devastation

Tuesday, Part 2: NICB’s Initial Response

Wednesday, Part 3: Vehicle Identification

Thursday, Part 4: Coast to Coast Impact

Friday, Part 5: Birth of VINCheck

Besides being located here the videos will also be available via our YouTube account or at our website at www.nicb.org.

Man Ordered to Repay Nearly $5 Million in Restitution

A Dallas-area man has been sentenced to nine years in federal prison and ordered to pay $4973,046 in restitution his role in running a staged traffic accident insurance scam since 2005.

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Leroy Nelson

From 2005 through 2012, Leroy Nelson defrauded auto insurance companies by submitting false and fraudulent claims for damage to various technical equipment in accidents that never happened. Nelson promised cash to individuals he recruited to report fictional accidents in which the driver had rear-ended a trailer or served to avoid something in the road and caused damage to items.