For 29 years the car was stashed in a storage facility gathering dust. That was until the storage fees stopped coming in and NICB was asked to investigate. What we discovered was a tale of a stolen vehicle, paid insurance claims and alleged murder.
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.
The 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.
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.
Despite the rapid increase in fraud due to identity theft and other schemes, staged auto accidents are still big business. Staged accident rings are typically highly organized – often just as organized as a legitimate business would be! They are usually controlled by one or more individuals and tend to be closely associated with certain law offices and/or medical clinics. It’s not uncommon to see family members, friends, co-workers and neighbors working side-by-side to commit this fraud. Newer and/or commercial vehicles are often targeted since they tend to be insured. These schemes result in higher insurance premiums for all of us.
What can you do?
If you suspect someone of committing fraud through a staged accident scheme, report it anonymously to NICB one of these three ways:
Complete and submit the form available online on the NICB Website. Your contact information is not required.
You can also call the NICB Hotline at 800.TEL.NICB (800.835.6422), staffed Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Central Time.
Cell phone users can text the keyword “FRAUD” and their tip to TIP411 (847411). Plus, iPhone or iPad users can download the NICB Fraud Tips app to make it easy to quickly send a tip and get a response.
A man on workers’ compensation lifts heavy groceries and shovels snow while collecting benefits.
In this edition of Fraud Files we focus on a Wisconsin man on workers’ compensation who had over $1.2 million paid out for the claim in 5 years. Only video surveillance shows the injury isn’t all that severe. In the footage the man is seen chopping ice, shoveling snow and lifting groceries.
The man allegedly continued to receive ongoing pain management treatment from his Wisconsin doctor. Evidence later showed the doctor was billing $15,000-$20,000 a month for these treatments.
A judge found the insurance company was not liable for unpaid bills and stated they were not required to continue to pay for future treatments. Those unpaid bills amounted to over $250,000 and future medical expenses that were estimated as high as $11 million.
In this edition of Fraud Files we tell the case of Maria Apodaca Simmons of Phoenix, AZ. She made claims that she lost her wedding rings in the ocean. That is until investigators found a photo of Simmons on her Facebook page wearing the rings after they had been reported lost.
In this edition of Fraud Files we take a look at how the city of Detroit has been plagued by arson fires featuring an in-depth print series on the seriousness of the issue. The series touched on many aspects of the arson problem including arson-for-profit rings. Roger Morris has more on the issue in the video below.