In this special edition of Fraud Files we warn residents of potential scams after the east coast blizzard that hit last weekend.
After a disaster, contractors and others will often go door-to-door in neighborhoods which have sustained damage to offer clean up and/or construction and repair services. Most of these business people are reputable, but many are not. The dishonest ones may execute schemes to defraud innocent victims.
One such scheme is to pocket the payment and 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 not up to code in order to pocket more profit.
Almost all of these scams begin with an unsolicited visit from a contractor. That is why we say, “If you didn’t request it, reject it.” If you have damage from a storm, contact your insurance company first. Your insurance company will honor its policy and will cover you for losses so there is no need to speak with a contractor who solicits your repair work—especially when you did not request it.
It’s been a common trend lately in the world of insurance and it is called the “crash and buy” scam. This is when someone without insurance gets in an accident and then quickly buys a policy after the incident. Only after getting a policy would the individual then make a claim on the accident.
Tamickeua Jones, 30, was arrested Tuesday on three counts of insurance fraud for her role in this scheme. In December 2014, she allegedly rear-ended another vehicle while driving without insurance. Hours later, she purchased a new insurance policy and reported to the insurance company that she had been in an accident in an attempt to get the insurer to cover the damage to the uninsured vehicle.
California Department of Insurance officials believe Jones made the claim to get her insurance to pay for the damage to her car. She was booked on three felony counts of insurance fraud for filing a fraudulent auto claim.
Last month former Major League Baseball pitcher Ted Lilly was charged with insurance fraud for a similar scenario. Lilly allegedly damaged his RV worth around $200,000 but did not file a claim until after he purchased insurance on the vehicle.
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, this type of insurance crime is surprisingly common. Insurance fraud is an expensive drain on the state’s economy that totals into the billions of dollars annually in California. This is not a victimless crime. The cost of these scams is passed along to consumers through higher rates and premiums-everyone pays for insurance fraud.”
In total 162 cases were filed with potential total losses of more than $1 million and actual losses of more than $75,000. 195 people were charged with 236 felonies and 43 misdemeanors.