South Carolina Auto Insurance Fraud Totals $12 Million

South Carolina officials say nearly $14.5 million in insurance fraud was reported in that state in 2010, more than the twice the amount from the previous year.

Fraudulent auto claims accounted for nearly $12 million—or about 80 percent of the total dollar amount reported—according to a report released Monday by the state attorney general’s office. The second-highest dollar amount was $1.3 million for health and medical policy fraud.

The attorney general’s insurance fraud division obtained 75 convictions for defrauding insurers last year, with criminal courts ordering more than $320,000 in restitution. Another $100,000 was ordered through civil disposition.
SC auto insurance fraud counts

That brings to 1,275 the number of convictions since the division was launched in 1995. Prosecutors have tracked more than $99 million in scams during that period, with auto coverage swindling making up more than $23 million of the total. The division has collected $7.8 million to date.

“Our office remains steadfast in this fight, and we will continue to bring the perpetrators of insurance fraud to justice,” Attorney General Alan Wilson said in a letter to state leaders.

Lexington County was home to the largest amount of bogus claims, according to the report, totaling more than $11 million.

Vehicle fraud commonly involves staged accidents, exaggerated injuries and other criminal acts.

The scams do more than just rip off insurers, officials said. They also lead to increased premiums, making it more difficult to get cheap car insurance in South Carolina.

The 2010 total is not the highest on record. In 2006, the attorney general’s office reported more than $15 million in fraud, but officials say one case accounted for two-thirds of that amount.

About Gregor McGavin
Gregor McGavin is an award-winning journalist who has reported across the country for such publications as The Associated Press, the Arizona Republic, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and the Press-Enterprise.

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