Car Full of Concrete – Insurance Scam Fail

In this edition of Fraud Files we take a look at how one Houston resident allegedly tried to flood a vehicle to collect on the insurance money. Police in Houston say that the owner of a 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe deliberately tried to get rid of the SUV during the April flooding in the area.

He allegedly put a piece of concrete on the gas pedal and tied the steering wheel using the driver’s side seat belt, then he drove it into the rising flood waters. NICB assisted in the investigation.

 

Multiple Arrests in Houston Tow Truck Scam

Houston police have arrested four people accused of a long-running scam that cheated motorists whose cars were towed under the Safe Clear program out of exorbitant tow lot storage fees and vehicle repair charges.

USAAutoThe allegations of organized criminal activity were lodged against individuals associated with USA Auto Collision, a Houston towing company that holds a city Safe Clear contract.

According to police, USA Auto Collision tricked motorists into signing documents – sometimes at the tow scene – authorizing its body shop to perform repairs, and then billed insurance companies for overpriced and sometimes unnecessary work.

Buying a Used Car? Don’t Get Tricked into Purchasing a Flooded Car

Last month thousands of cars were stranded, stalled and submerged after torrential rain hit the Houston area. NICB recommends you check a vehicle’s history before purchasing a used car.
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Courtesy: KPRC

Texas Flooding Damages Up to 10,000 Insured Vehicles

DES PLAINES, Ill. – The recent flooding in Texas means the end of the road for an estimated 7,000 to 10,000 insured vehicles that suffered water damage.

Salvagelot

Copart facility in Houston, TX

That’s the current estimate from Copart, a company that works on behalf of insurers to handle the vehicles damaged in catastrophes. About 2,500 cars, trucks, motorcycles, RVs and other vehicles have already been towed to one of Copart’s locations, a 200-acre processing facility in Houston.

After a disaster, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) works with its member companies, law enforcement and companies like Copart to identify the vehicles that have had an insurance claim filed and to process them for sale. All of the cars will be retitled with the Department of Motor Vehicles and the new title will indicate the fact that the vehicle has been flood damaged. Most of the vehicles are sold to parts companies who will dismantle them and re-sell usable parts that were not damaged by the flooding.

To see a video about the processing of flooded vehicles, click here.

The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is also entered into the NICB’s VINCheck℠ and the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) database.

Interior

Interior of a flooded Porsche

NICB’s VINCheck allows car buyers to see whether a vehicle has ever been declared as “salvage” or a total loss by an NICB member that participates in the program. Insurers representing about 88 percent of the personal auto insurance market provide their salvage data to the program. It also alerts users if a vehicle has been stolen and is still unrecovered. VINCheck is a free public service available here.

Keeping damaged cars out of the hands of unsuspecting buyers is a major focus of the industry. Unfortunately, some of the flooded vehicles may be purchased at bargain prices, cleaned up, and then taken out of state where the VIN is switched and the car is retitled with no indication it has been damaged.

NICB warns that buyers be particularly careful in the weeks and months after a major catastrophe. Vehicles that were not insured may be cleaned up and put up for sale by the owner or an unscrupulous dealer with no disclosure of the flood damage.

Buyers should have a vehicle checked by a reputable mechanic or repair facility before handing over any cash.

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℠.

Insurance Fraud Headlines for June 4, 2015

Here are the top insurance fraud stories for today:

* Fraud alert: Avoiding flooded cars (KPRC-TV)

Tara Herndon

Tara Herndon

* Woman allegedly failed to report income on second job while on workers’ comp (Command Investigations)

* After the flood: How to spot and avoid damaged cars (Kelly Blue Book)

* North Carolina Woman Accused of Insurance Fraud Against American Modern (Insurance Journal)

Courtesy: WOIO

Courtesy: WOIO

* Former funeral home owner pleads guilty to fraud (WOIO-TV)

Texas Storms Leave Thousands of Vehicles Flooded

Houstoncars

Flood-damaged cars in Houston

DES PLAINES, Ill. – As Texas and parts of the South-Central U.S. recover from record-breaking rainfall and widespread flooding, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) stands ready to assist 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. “Unfortunately, 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.”

NICB agents are already working with law enforcement and member companies to identify these damaged vehicles to help keep would-be buyers from becoming fraud victims.

A History of Helping When Disaster Strikes

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina 10 years ago this August, NICB agents worked side by side with law enforcement officials to inspect thousands of vehicles damaged by flood waters. As a result of that unprecedented effort, NICB established a first-of-its-kind consumer protection service known today as VINCheck. It allows car buyers to see whether a vehicle has ever been declared as “salvage” or a total loss by an NICB member that participates in VINCheck. Insurers representing about 88 percent of the personal auto insurance market provide their salvage data to the program. It also alerts users if a vehicle has been stolen and is still unrecovered. VINCheck is a free public service available at www.nicb.org.

NICB encourages those entities required by law to report flood-damaged vehicles to the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) which currently includes information on 96 percent of all U.S. vehicles. Currently, 44 states report data to the system which contains approximately 20 million salvage or total loss records.

Potential for Fraud

In the weeks ahead, consumers should be on the lookout for other post-flood fraud schemes such as towing companies that try to pressure them into using their service and then charge exorbitant towing and storage fees. In addition, homeowners in disaster areas should be alert to the potential for fraud by unscrupulous contractors and home repair businesses. “Fraud is an unfortunate reality in post-disaster environments,” said Wehrle. “As the initial recovery in Texas gets underway, fraudsters are already scheming to converge on the affected areas in order 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.”

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.

Insurance Fraud Headlines for May 27, 2015

Here are the top insurance fraud stories for today:

* Former Ohio Agent Sentenced for Insurance Fraud, Theft (Insurance Journal)

* Hackers are stealing cars wirelessly. Man wants to build the lock to stop them (Fusion)

* How to avoid buying a flood-damaged vehicle (Chron)

* More Arrests in Conjunction With Florida Insurance Fraud Sting (Claims Journal)

Insurance Fraud Headlines for May 15, 2015

Here are the top insurance fraud stories for today:

* Mount Carmel man charged with vehicle insurance fraud (Insurance News)

* Two ambulance firms to pay $600,000 in insurance fraud settlement (Connecticut Post)

*Fraud Fraud: What it’s costing you, how to protect yourself (WABC-TV)

* Thieves eyeing Houston-area truck drivers’ tailgates (KTRK-TV)

* How to buy insurance for a salvage title car (CarInsurance.com)