A Picture is Worth 10 Years

A week ago we told you humans are strange animals.  And that hasn't changed in seven days.  In fact the really stupid things they do in failed attempts to cheat insurance companies out of money seem to go from dumb to even dumber.  In viewing the files of Progressive Insurance fraud investigator Ray Albertini you'd almost think that these inept criminals were trying to get caught. 

Of course, insurance fraud is a serious crime that costs all of us cash, because insurance companies have to cover their fraudulent losses somehow, and the money is not going to come from the criminals who seek to rip them off.  Instead, we bear the brunt for what the National Insurance Crime Bureau estimates is more than $30 billion a year in bogus claims.

Of course, if you want to talk about bogus, you should hear about the schemes some people come up with. Like these, for instance:

What's Wrong with this Picture?

A customer said some parts were stolen from his car, and to support his claim, he submitted some invoices along with Polaroid photos. While the invoices looked trumped up, at first blush the photos looked pretty good, but on closer inspection something seemed a little odd about them. After more study, investigators realized the guy had taken extreme closeups of a toy car that was the same color and make of his actual car. The customer eventually admitted he took photos of the toy car and tried to pass them off as photos of his actual vehicle.  The lesson: don't do that.
Miracle Cure

A passenger riding in the car of an insured driver was injured in a crash and needed chiropractic treatment. The insurance company had no problem with that and covered the cost of the treatments. However, sometime before completing the prescribed series of doctor visits, the injured passenger died of unrelated, natural causes. Now, you'd think that a person who is deceased would no longer benefit from a doctor's care, but evidently, the chiropractor thought otherwise. He continued to bill for treatment for a full month after his patient's death.
Going the Extra Mile

A woman decided to take her boyfriend's motorcycle for a ride, but, unfortunately, she didn't know how to drive a motorcycle and crashed it. Luckily, she wasn't injured. But her boyfriend, afraid his insurance wouldn't cover the damage to his motorcycle because his girlfriend wasn't listed as a driver on his policy, decided to pretend that he had crashed the motorcycle. His thoughts weren't unique, but this particular perpetrator took the whole thing to a new level. He figured he needed some injuries to make his story of crashing the bike credible, so he tied himself to the back of a truck and asked a friend to drag him around a little bit to produce the "road rash" he would have gotten from the purported motorcycle wreck. That part of the plan worked, because he received some authentic-looking injuries.  But he didn't count on his girlfriend's big mouth.  She told investigators that she crashed the motorcycle, so his physical pain became financial and psychic as well.

"People may laugh at some of these incidents, but what they need to realize is that people who commit fraud are taking money out of everyone else's pockets," said Progressive's Albertini.

What can you do about it?  Well, if you become aware of or suspect fraudulent activity you can report it anonymously to the National Insurance Crime Bureau at 800-TEL-NICB (800-835-6422).  That simple phone call can help us all.

Driving Today Managing Editor Jack R. Nerad has written a book called Fatal Photographs, detailing an automotive-related murder case.