September 19, 2013
By Xavier Higgs
LAWT Contributing Writer
Los Angeles County has received nearly $6.9 million in grants from the California Department of Insurance to fund the investigation and prosecution of automobile insurance fraud crimes.
Los Angeles leads the state in “swoop-and-squat” crashes, in which two vehicles act together to force a rear-end collision,
“This endangers motorists,” says Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey. “Innocent drivers and their passengers are placed at high risk every time one these phony collision occurs on our streets and highways.”
According to Los Angeles residents pay more than $200 to $300 more annually in higher auto insurance premiums due to fraud.
Lacey joined California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones to announce the allocate funds for additional staff dedicated to cracking down on the phony collision claims.
The grants include $2.3 million in funding for the focus on organized auto insurance fraud. While the other $4.6 million grant will go after all facets of auto insurance fraud.
Everyday motorist are at risk of these staged auto accidents. Insurance fraud is a multi billion dollar criminal enterprise.
Jones contends these scams are a safety risk to all drivers.
There were 7,718 suspected fraudulent claims from Los Angeles between 2012-2013. That’s 42.9 percent of all auto related insurance fraud referrals.
Consequently Jones says, “as the head of California’s largest consumer protection agency, my mission is to go after fraud when it occurs.”
Both Lacey and Jones warned Los Angeles area drivers to be on the lookout for scam artists who stage collisions to collect insurance money.
Law enforcement says the criminals represent three categories. This includes professionals such as doctors who diagnosis bogus injuries and the lawyers who file the false claims. Next are the cappers, middlemen who find cars to crash. The third level is the “so-called victim” who is recruited by the Cappers.
Lacey explained that low-level players are recruit sometimes outside of convenience stores. They are paid from $50 to $100 to be in a car during the collision. They are told to file claims for injuries for treatments they never receive.
If you are a victim of one these scams, ask for a police report. Ask the police to identify each of the witness. Contact the Dept. of Insurance if you suspect that you have been involved in a staged accident. The California Insurance Commissioner’s office telephone number is (800) 927-4357.