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.

Two Stolen Vehicles Valued at $96,000 Recovered in Michigan

In this edition of Fraud Files we take a look at the recovery of a 2016 Chevrolet Corvette and a 2015 Ford F-150 with a total value of $96,000.

StolenCorvette

This 2016 Chevrolet Corvette was recovered at the scene

A Michigan man was arrested and charged with allegedly using false identification to purchase the vehicles from dealerships and financing them using stolen identities. Recovered at the scene were a 2016 Chevrolet Corvette with a value of over $63,000 as well as a 2015 Ford F-150 with a value of over $33,000. Both vehicles had theft claims on them.

The subject was arrested and charged in a nine count felony complaint and was also charged as a habitual offender. The National Insurance Crime Bureau assisted in the investigation.

Like This. Rethinking Social Networks and Fraud Awareness in the Era of Generation Y.

SocialMediaAs an Investigative Assistant at NICB, I provide assistance to NICB Agents, member companies, and our law enforcement partners in the fight against insurance fraud. Each call that I receive can be vastly different. It’s a stark reminder that new types of fraudulent schemes are emerging on a daily basis. Armed with this new knowledge, it has caused me to reconsider how I use social media.

When I first joined Facebook, it seemed like an exclusive club that was only open to those with a college email address. Its exclusiveness made it feel a lot safer than its counterpart MySpace, which was open to anyone. However, after a while Facebook dropped its college-only status and opened itself up to anyone with a computer. With the openness of social networks such as Facebook, the current generation has to be careful of what information it shares with the social media world.

There seems to be a common misconception among my generation, Generation Y/Millenials; it’s the idea that we are in control of who sees our information. We create a password, handpick a mere 865 friends, and set our profiles to “private.” Yet we are still at risk of having our information shared with people we don’t know. Today, all someone needs to do is take a screenshot of that embarrassing picture or any other private moment that you’ve posted on Facebook and send it to five of their friends. Poof! That security wall that you thought you put up has suddenly come tumbling down.

Unlike previous generations, we seem to be more willing to share our daily life with people we barely know, thereby putting ourselves at risk for all types of danger, including identity theft and other fraud schemes. Over sharing is a serious problem. Aside from the host of potentially unflattering pictures of inappropriate behavior that we may post, we’ve essentially given up control of our personal information to a website in hopes of showing other people just how great we are doing. Well. How great are we actually doing?

As a user, I can’t pretend that I don’t appreciate the benefits that social platforms like Facebook provides me to keep in touch with friends. I do love those wedding pictures from my grammar school classmates. Like many other users, I also wonder what these people have been up to since we last saw each other, often so many years ago.

I have also found many new organizations to support that I otherwise would not have known about due to the location or just plain lack of information. Like many of my contemporaries, I usually receive my world news by my custom select newsfeed. Newspapers? Not so much. And yes, I’m more likely to use the search engine on my phone rather than grab a chunky phone book. Do they even print those anymore?

But I still have to wonder, at what price does this benefit come? Posting pictures of yourself engaging in inappropriate behavior can do more harm than just make you look bad to a potential employer. Tagging yourself in a certain location can make you more likely to have someone follow you. Putting on Facebook that you are going on vacation makes it easier for a break in to happen. All of these reasons are the downside of this new freedom my generation has created for itself. We seem to be quick to put out information to let people know everything about ourselves that we are willing to give up control of our private information.

So, is there a plus side to sharing? It has become a good ally in helping to combat insurance fraud. Ten years ago, law enforcement may have had to search for weeks to find information on a stolen car or for investigators at an insurance company to find evidence regarding a suspicious claim. Now individuals seem to willingly put it all out there on the social networks for the whole world to see. With the click of a mouse, friends, strangers, and law enforcement can get pictures, advertisements, and even a confession of car thefts, break-ins and other illegal activities.

It will be interesting to see what the future of social media holds for not just Generation Y, but for all of us. As for me, I’m rethinking my next status update. LOL.

Tax Identity Theft: Yet Another Threat to the Public

Tax Identity Theft

It’s tax time. And with the deadline for filing, April 15, looming in the not so distant future, many last minute filers scramble to get their returns completed. For many, there may already exist a great deal of anxiety around preparing their tax returns. However, as a USA Today article points out, there may be an even greater cause for anxiety. That’s finding out that someone else has used your name and Social Security number to file a return – and collect a fraudulent refund.

How prevalent is the problem? The USA Today opinion piece cites that in 2012, there were 1.8 million such incidents. Reportedly, one address in Lansing, Mich. was used to file 2,137 tax returns in 2010, and one bank account had been used to receive 590 direct-deposit refunds that totaled over $900,000. The article further goes on to cite that victims may spend six months or more than a year to resolve an identity theft case.

In response to the article, Beth Tucker, deputy commissioner of the IRS, acknowledged that identity theft is a complex issue to fight. However, the IRS has taken new steps to stop fraudulent refunds from being issued in the first place. For example, the IRS has strengthened its security filters for fraudulent indicators such as thieves attempting to file multiple returns to the same address or for a single bank account. With these stronger protections and security filters in place, Tucker asserts that the IRS has already blocked 2 million suspicious returns, and last year the IRS blocked more than $20 billion in fraudulent refunds compared to $14 billion in 2011. As for victims, the IRS reportedly issued 770,000 identity theft PIN numbers to protect confirmed victims to help resolve 500,000 cases from last year and an additional 200,000 cases have been sorted through and closed since January of 2013.

To learn more about Tax Identity Theft, visit the IRS website, or to learn more about other Identity Theft schemes, visit the NICB website.

Reference: USA Today, Friday, April 12, 2013, “As identity thieves thrive, IRS ‘moving backward

Winners & Losers

By the time the authorities are knocking on their door, it’s too late. As they’re led out of their homes or offices, a thousand things must go through their minds. It’s the father who gets arrested in front of his son. It’s the sixty-something year old doctor who might possibly spend the last days of his life in jail. But before getting to this point, maybe the prospect of going to jail wasn’t enough of a deterrent. Maybe even the potential of being arrested in front of their families, friends, or coworkers didn’t weigh heavy enough upon them to dissuade them from making a very bad choice. But at some point, a rationale person would have to stop and think about the consequences of being caught.

The fight against insurance fraud is an ongoing battle with schemes becoming more and more elaborate every day. The opponents in this epic battle are law enforcement and the insurance industry facing off against anyone and everyone who engages in fraud. And sometimes watching the sides go back and forth can be a dizzying experience. With so many new schemes emerging on a daily basis, it’s often challenging to keep score of whose winning and losing.

Clearly those who perpetrate these schemes put a lot of time, thought and energy into them. If only that same time, thought and energy were used to help others rather than commit crimes. A recent alleged scheme involved restaurant employees who used a device to skim account information from the credit cards of their customers. The information was reportedly transferred to a new physical credit card and used to rack up fraudulent charges. Another alleged scheme involved an organized ring of more than 100 people including doctors, nurses and other medical professionals who may have defrauded the Medicare system out of $452 million through false billing. In both cases, the perpetrators were caught, charged and now facing possible conviction. Despite all the news about other fraud perpetrators being caught and convicted, here again maybe the message “It’s not worth it” just didn’t hit home.

Regardless of whether one person engages in a scheme or an organized crime ring perpetrates a series of schemes, fraud is fraud and sooner or later, those who commit these crimes will be caught. It’s not a matter of if; it’s a matter of when. From the person who pads their claim to get a little extra money to the doctor who bills for services not rendered, it all equates to a multi-billion dollar problem. And it’s a problem in which we’re all victims because we all pay the costs.