N.J. Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Posts 2005 Report

New Jersey Attorney General Zulima Farber this week forwarded the 2005 Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor report and reference manual chronicling New Jersey’s insurance fraud efforts to Governor Jon Corzine and the New Jersey Legislature.

The statutorily-required report, available electronically via the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Web Page, highlights investigations, prosecutions, and civil cases undertaken by the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor in 2005.

“This year’s manual includes a guide to effective strategies for investigating complex insurance fraud cases, studies of fraud trends and strategies for law enforcement and the industry to stay ahead of emerging fraud schemes, updates on court decisions affecting insurance fraud litigation, and recommendations for legislative and regulatory reform,” said Farber.

Division of Criminal Justice Director Gregory Paw and Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Greta Gooden Brown noted that since the OIFP’s inception in 1998, the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor has screened more than 66,000 reports of suspected insurance fraud, prosecuted and convicted more than 1,000 insurance fraudsters, sending 420 defendants to jail for a total of 766 years, secured more than $135 million in civil and criminal restitution, and obtained nearly 5,000 civil fines totaling nearly $27 million.

In 2005, the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor recorded a 17 percent increase in insurance fraud arrests, while criminal convictions increased three percent. Noteworthy for 2005 were criminal case restitution orders amounting to an unprecedented $88.9 million. On the civil side, OIFP imposed $5.7 million in civil fines, while civil judgments and settlements netted $5.4 million.

As importantly, the report represents an up-to-date reference manual utilized by insurance industry executives, law enforcement officers, the judiciary, government officials, educators and others interested in combating insurance fraud in New Jersey and elsewhere. Reference materials provided in the report have been cited as authoritative and relied upon by insurance practitioners in various disciplines, both nationally and internationally, including a New Jersey Superior Court judicial opinion, New Jersey Supreme Court pleadings, and a college textbook.

Brown noted that the public/private partnership approach to fighting fraud, pioneered in New Jersey, has provided significant results in the detection, investigation, and prosecution of insurance fraud. The Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor was recognized in a recent survey of the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, a Washington based independent non-profit organization of consumers, government agencies and insurers dedicated to combating insurance fraud through public information and advocacy, as the national leader in fighting insurance fraud.

The Coalition reported that out of 44 state fraud bureaus, New Jersey’s office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor opened more cases than any other state. The survey also reported that New Jersey presented the second greatest number of cases for prosecution, logged the third greatest number of fraud convictions and filed the greatest number of civil actions. New Jersey’s civil cases alone represented 82 percent of all civil cases from all 44 states.

The 2005 report is available in an electronic format and has been posted on OIFP’s Web site at www.NJInsurancefraud.org.