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5/16/2011 - Fraudsters get creative with accidents

Insurance companies say fraudulent claims have become more brazen.

With law enforcement officials improving their ability to spot auto insurance fraud, the ways in which fraudsters try to hoodwink insurance companies are becoming increasingly creative.

In an interview with Newsweek, Frank Scafidi of the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NCIB) says these attempts are referred to by those in the industry as "owner give-ups," where fraudsters resort to elaborate schemes to make it look like their car was involved in a serious accident.

The magazine cited several incidents in which owners tried to fool insurance authorities, but after investigating, the accidents or thefts were found to be manufactured by the policyholder. In 2009, for example, a California woman tried to make a claim after saying her car was stolen, when in actuality, she arranged for it to be disassembled in Mexico.

Industry experts tell Newsweek that policyholders are likely resorting to these tactics due to financial stress.

Scafidi told the magazine that no matter how difficult one's financial situation might be, they should not resort to insurance fraud because there are "tell-tale" signs indicative of owner give-ups which authorities can trace.

According to the NICB, suspected fraud cases are growing in many parts of the country. The group says questionable claims in Florida increased 34 percent from 2008 to 2010. 

If you suspect insurance fraud, you may report it directly to Selective by calling our Fraud Hotline (877-862-2824). We will make every effort to maintain your confidentiality. You can also report insurance fraud to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (800-835-6422) or to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.

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