Florida Targets Rising Staged Accident Insurance Fraud

March 12, 2010

Florida CFO Alex Sink, the Tampa Police Department, and Allstate Insurance Co. held a press conference recently to draw attention to Personal Injury Protection (PIP) fraud and an increase in number of scammers throughout Florida.

Since July 2009, CFO Sink’s investigators have arrested 240 people for PIP fraud, resulting in 156 convictions.

“Staged accident fraud is not just a problem for insurance companies and victims, but ultimately for every Floridian who will see higher premiums because of it,” said CFO Sink. “We’re getting more and more referrals, which means we’re putting many more of these scammers behind bars.”

According to statistics from CFO Sink’s Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF), PIP is the most reported type of fraud, accounting for 30 percent of all referrals received. Insurance fraud is a 2nd degree felony punishable by a minimum mandatory 2-year prison term if convicted.

The state has seven PIP squads dedicated solely to investigating PIP fraud. These squads are located in the division’s Central and South Florida regional offices where PIP fraud is most prevalent.

According to investigators, there most common types of PIP fraud are:

  • Reporting a collision at an intersection after first damaging the cars at an offsite location.
  • “Swoop and Squat” – intentional real collisions, followed by fraudulent injury claims.

“Staged auto accidents are no accident, and they are not victimless crimes,” said Mike Sheely, Allstate vice president, Florida Region. “It costs law enforcement and insurance companies millions of dollars every year to investigate and prosecute these crimes. They endanger lives and drive up insurance costs for everyone.”

The Division of Insurance Fraud made more than 830 insurance fraud-related arrests in the last fiscal year. Depending on the estimated loss amount, the state will pay up to $25,000 for information directly leading to an arrest and conviction. Anyone with information about this or any other suspected insurance fraud can call the Fraud Fighters Hotline at 1-800-378-0445 or visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com/fraud.

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