Fraud Files: Colorado Contractor Arrested for Scamming the Elderly

A Denver, Colorado contractor has been charged with several counts of felony theft after allegedly scamming elderly homeowners through his roofing and restoration business.

Jonathan McMillan, 41, is the owner of Lifetime Roofing and Restoration. According to Jefferson County court documents, McMillan hired sales people to go door-to-door soliciting roofing business from homeowners with houses damaged primarily by hailstorms. Those employees were instructed by McMillan to have the homeowners sign contracts and collect as much insurance claim payments as quickly as possible.

To view more episodes of Fraud Files click here.

NICB Celebrates Healthiest Company in America Award

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) is proud to announce national recognition as one of the Healthiest Companies in America by Interactive Health, a national leader known for its personalized wellness solutions. NICB is one of 156 companies across the country being recognized for helping employees make significant and sometimes life-saving changes to improve their health. This is the second year NICB has won the award.

With the help of strategic and flexible wellness initiatives, the Healthiest Companies in America recipients have accomplished tremendous success, achieving participation rates in excess of 70 percent and a low-risk health score for their total population, based on rigorous and clinically sound health evaluations.

“This is the 10th year we’re honoring the Healthiest Companies in America and it continues to inspire us how successful the winning companies are in building and sustaining employee engagement and inspiring positive health outcomes,” said Interactive Health President and CEO Cathy Kenworthy. “It is possible to improve health through the right workplace initiatives, and it is smart business. In addition to this year’s 156 winners, there are dozens more that are extremely close to obtaining the designation, or have met the criteria in the past, set an even higher bar for their program, and will meet that bar again in the future. We looking forward to inviting more companies into the winner’s circle next year as our technology and service enhancements make it even more possible for organizations to improve employee health.”

Participants in Interactive Health’s wellness program receive a thorough health evaluation to identify risk and learn about their health status. Through a combination of rapid outreach, connection to personal physicians and tailored resources, a personalized course of action is delivered to the participant resulting in improved or maintained health, leading NICB to this achievement.

For more information on Healthiest Companies in America, visit http://interactivehealthinc.com/client-success/healthiest-companies/.

Billboards Aim to Reduce Vehicle Theft Rate in Albuquerque Area

Billboard messages are popping up along Albuquerque freeways urging people to report vehicle thefts and suspects in an effort to put a dent in the local crime rate. According to the latest “Hot Spots” report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), the Albuquerque metropolitan area had the second highest vehicle theft rate per capita in the nation in 2015.

Working with the New Mexico Insurance Fraud Bureau and the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, NICB provided funding for the messages which will run through April on digital billboards at major locations along I-25 and I-40.

The organizations discussed collaborative efforts to help reduce the theft rate during a fraud summit held in Albuquerque last fall. The metro area was improving from the eighth spot nationally in 2008. Using bait cars provided by NICB and its member companies, law enforcement efforts moved the area down to the number 20 spot in 2012 and 2013. However, reduced funding for auto theft prevention and other issues resulted in an upswing, and 2015 saw the area rise to number two on the Hot Spots list.

The number to call for vehicle theft activity or to report suspected thieves is 505-827-9359. The line is staffed around the clock.

“We urge citizens to call us if they see something,” said Fraud Bureau Chief Roberta Baca. “The community’s assistance is essential in helping law enforcement stem the tide on this unacceptable crime rate.”

NICB Warns New Orleans Tornado Victims of Scams

As the New Orleans area recovers from the damage caused by a string of powerful tornadoes, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reminds consumers that in the weeks ahead, homeowners in disaster areas should be alert to the potential for fraud by unscrupulous contractors and home repair businesses.

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.

NICB has personnel in the affected areas assisting our member insurance companies and a video of the area is available here.

“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. 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.

NICB Agents Receive Investigation of the Year Award

Courtesy: San Diego County DA

The National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association (NHCAA) recently presented its 2016 Investigation of the Year Award to NICB Supervisory Special Agent Tom Downey and Special Agent Malisa Trimble of the West Region. The Agents received the award for their “Operation Backlash” investigation, which resulted in the indictment of eight defendants in November of 2015, 13 defendants in January of 2016, and federal indictments against three individuals and four corporations.

“Operation Backlash” was an extensive 4-year multi-agency undercover operation initiated to combat entrenched corruption in the California Workers’ Compensation System (CWCS) private insurance program. The loss to CWCS was in excess of a half-billion dollars. The sheer scale of this fraud makes it one of the largest insurance bribery schemes in workers’ compensation ever uncovered in San Diego County.

The case aggressively targeted a vast web of multiple conspiracies involving doctors, attorneys, and chiropractors working with patient call centers, ancillary service providers, and medical marketers. The targets all paid and received several million dollars in illegal kickbacks.
To date, a total of 22 individuals and 10 corporations have been indicted and plea agreements have been secured with 6 individuals and 3 corporations tallying over $2.1 million in forfeitures. As a result of these actions, 13 criminal organizations have been disrupted and 3 criminal organizations have been dismantled.

SSA Tom Downey and SA Malisa Trimble with their NHCAA Investigation of the Year Award

Fraud Files: Multi-Million Dollar Health Care Fraud

In this edition of Fraud Files we focus on a multi-million dollar scam in south Florida. Seven defendants including owners, doctors, a manager, and a laboratory representative of sober homes and alcohol and drug addiction treatment centers were charged for their participation in a health care fraud and money laundering scheme that involved the filing of fraudulent insurance claim forms and defrauded health care benefit programs.

Mississippi Legislature Tackles Cargo Theft

The Mississippi legislature is considering two bills that would create a specific offense for cargo theft. House Bill 722, introduced by Representative Steve Massengill (R-District 13), and Senate Bill 2184, introduced by Senator Dennis DeBar, Jr. (R-District 43), recognize the impact that cargo theft has across the entire socio-economic spectrum. The proposed legislation creates law specific to cargo theft from a railcar, commercial trailer, semitrailer, fifth wheel or container and includes substantial penalties upon conviction.

Cargo theft is a major national crime problem which adds to the cost of merchandise, food and transportation. Stolen food and pharmaceuticals pose a real health hazard and these commodities, along with electronics, continue to be the favorite target among cargo thieves.

Just consider the health implications for innocent consumers who, believing that they are getting safe and secure products, unknowingly buy stolen food or drugs which have been improperly stored or exposed to contaminants as they moved through the illicit commerce stream. Individuals who feed their greed through potentially deadly acts of cargo theft deserve the special attention that these two bills provide.

To help educate the public, NICB produced a public service announcement describing the impact of cargo theft and it has been airing on radio and television stations across the nation. It is available here.

NICB urges the Mississippi legislature to pass HB 722 and SB 2184 to provide law enforcement and prosecutors with the legislation necessary to address the public health threat posed by cargo theft.

Know Before You Tow!

As we’ve written in the past tow trucks scams are becoming a major issue across the country. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) is warning and educating consumers about unethical and illegal practices among some rogue towing and storage operators and repair shops around the nation.

In our latest episode of Fraud Files we take a look at how states are cracking down on illegal towing fees.

Here’s a list of the most recent legislative activity involving towing laws across the country:

California – Assembly Bill 1222, Signed Into Law – September 2015

* Prohibits a towing company from stopping at an accident scene unless summoned to the scene by the owner of the vehicle, owner/operator, or requested by law enforcement
* Establishing requirements to provide proof that a tow truck driver was summoned to the scene
* Require towing companies to provide a written estimate of all charges to the vehicle operator and a signature by the vehicle operator before proceeding with the tow and maintaining a cap on the amount of the tow
* Require towing companies to maintain a record of all towing documents for a period of 3 years and to make those records available for inspection by law enforcement
* Misdemeanor penalties

Illinois – Senate Bill 2261, Signed into Law – August 2016

* Penalties on towers who illegally solicit accident victims – Class 4 Felony
* Towers who violate the accident scene solicitation law can be sued by the vehicle owner and/or the owner’s insurer.
* Also created a statewide relocation towing commission tasked with examining the towing laws of the state and to make recommendations

Missouri – House Bill 1976 – Law Effective November 2016

* Prohibits a towing company from stopping at an accident scene unless summoned to the scene by the owner of the vehicle, owner/operator, or requested by law enforcement, unless it’s an emergency situation
* Allow vehicle owners access to storage yard and sets requirements for when storage yards to be open
* Requires towers to make available upon request a written estimate of all tow-related charges
* Requires a tow rotation list be maintained and utilized by the Missouri State Police, but local jurisdictions are not mandated to use that list
* Misdemeanor penalties for 1st offense, felony on 2nd

Ohio – House Bill 341, Signed into Law – January 2017

* Allows a civil action by insurers against a towing company operator to recover a vehicle. The vehicle is released within 2 days of the insurance company paying the “undisputed amount” of the bill from the towing company.

Pennsylvania

* NICB is working with a state lawmaker from the Pittsburgh area on legislation in 2017 to address towing abuses in Pennsylvania. The problem is most prominent in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Anyone with information concerning tow scams can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 1-800-TEL-NICB (1-800-835-6422), texting keyword “fraud” to TIP411 (847411) or by visiting our web site at www.nicb.org.

Warming Up That Vehicle May Lead to a Ticket

keysincarnicbAs frigid temperatures and wintry blasts have hit a large section of the nation, drivers are increasingly “puffing” – warming up their parked vehicles before heading out on the road. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) warns that leaving an unlocked car running with the keys or fob inside can lead to two unwanted scenarios.

First, it makes your vehicle a prime target for an opportunistic car thief. In fact, one of out every eight vehicles stolen in 2015 had the keys or fob left inside. That can cost you a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars depending on your level of theft insurance.

Second, in an effort to reduce unnecessary thefts, many states and municipalities have passed laws banning “puffing.” It’s illegal to leave the car running and unlocked, even in your driveway. Remote starters that allow you to start the engine while the car is safely locked up without the keys are usually considered a safe alternative.

“Getting a warning or a ticket is preferable to having your car stolen,” said NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle. “As we’ve reported previously, 57,000 vehicles were stolen in one year with the keys left inside. That’s one every six-and-a-half minutes. And when you add up the costs of replacing those vehicles, it’s hundreds of millions of dollars. Many of those cars are not insured against theft and the owner is left holding the bag and paying for a new car.”

NICB recently produced new public service announcements related to this issue and they are now airing on media outlets around the country. Here are the links to view them: Leaving Your Keys in Your Vehicle and Warming Up Your Car.

To view a list of states where it is illegal to leave a vehicle unattended while running click here.