Weekly Car Insurance Crime Watch: December 27th

Silver handcuff and dollar bank notesThe news doesn’t stop, because crime never does either.

With the deluge of crime stories that Online Auto Insurance News (OAIN) sees every day relating to car coverage, here is a roundup of this week’s biggest headline-grabbing yarns.

And it certainly is a deluge. This week, investigations by regulatory authorities unveil what they say are the criminal intentions that lie behind seemingly innocent car insurance claims.

Cell Phone Records Wreck Woman’s Attempt to Cash in on Car Fire

We carry our cell phones everywhere as a matter of convenience and luxury. But there are some instances where that inseparable cell phone can be a problem.

Take the case of Donica Santos, a 39-year-old driver in Tacoma, Wash., who was charged this week for theft and fraud after what state regulatory authorities allege was an attempt to cash in on a fake stolen vehicle claim.

Credit for the case goes to a special investigatory unit within the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner. Investigators reported that Santos’ 2006 Chrysler 300C was found on fire more than a year ago, in the early morning hours of March 16, 2012.

Later that day, Santos reported to Travelers that her vehicle was stolen and “a total loss.”

Santos told police that she had not seen her car since the night of March 15 and “had not left her house or used her cell phone between 10:30 p.m. and 2:50 a.m.,” when police came to her home to write up her initial statement about the burnt-out car.

A closer look at Santos’ cell phone records, however, not only revealed that she had “repeatedly” used her cell phone during those hours but also that some of those calls were made from areas close to the location where her car was found.

Travelers denied Santos’ claim based on the discrepancies between her cell phone records and statements to police. Santos faces a number of penalties and possible prison time when she enters her plea next year, according to authorities.

North Carolina Woman Tries to Bilk $11K from Insurer

Saying it really hurts when it really doesn’t is exaggeration.

Telling your insurer it hurts to the tune of $11,000 when it really isn’t hurting that badly is a crime.

Loletia Gail Causey learned as much this month, when the North Carolina woman was arrested on one count of insurance fraud and one count of obtaining property by false pretense. Investigators from the North Carolina Department of Insurance (NCDOI) said that Causey submitted fake and pumped-up medical bills to Southern General Insurance for a car accident that occurred in August.

The exaggerated medical bills totaled almost $11,000 in Causey’s “attempt to defraud the insurance company.”

NCDOI also said that such cases inflate the cost of North Carolina insurance premiums, since 10 cents of every dollar paid in premiums “goes toward the payment of fraudulent claims” like those that Causey concocted.

Florida Chiropractor Arrested in PIP Scam

The fraud in the case above was perpetrated by Causey herself, so imagine the ill-gotten rewards of fraud perpetrated by an intricate web of scamsters.

Investigators in Florida announced this month that they had unraveled a crucial part of that web with the arrest of Harold John Pompey, a 68-year-old that is accused of subverting his skills as a licensed chiropractor to fabricate test results at Gate Parkway Diagnostics Center in Fort Myers, Fla.

According to investigators with the Florida Department of Financial Services, Pompey pumped out tests that were “the lifeblood of fraud committed by a number of [personal injury protection] clinics in Jacksonville.”

Pompey’s tests were the foundation for car-crash injury claims requiring massage therapy and other treatments that allowed Pompey and other scamsters “to cash into the $10,000 available under the participant’s PIP coverage.” According to investigators, Pompey was “listed as designated chiropractor on more than 300” files of patients at the Fort Myers diagnostics center.

Jeff Atwater, Florida’s chief financial officer, applauded the investigators behind the case.

“PIP fraud impacts all Floridians by driving up auto insurance rates,” Atwater said in a statement. “I am proud of our dedicated fraud investigators who work to protect honest and hardworking Floridians by getting these fraudsters off our streets and out of our wallets.”

About Charles Nguyen
Charles Nguyen is an enterprising journalist who reported for Patch.com and the Desert Dispatch and was the editor in chief of the Guardian (the twice-weekly newspaper at the University of California, San Diego) before coming to Online Auto Insurance News.

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