Car crashes are inevitable. We hate them, but they happen. Well, I guess not everyone hates them. In fact, last week, at least 23 drivers so far were busted for faking car crashes and injuries in order to swindle insurance companies out of payouts. This insurance fraud yielded over $1 million in insurance payouts.
How does someone fake a car crash 14 times?
Over three years, these fraudulent insurance claims were collected from 14 different car crashes. For these 14 crashes, 23 individuals were arrested on fraud charges.
Staging 14 car crashes with fake injuries takes a good bit of planning. According to Autoblog, prosecutors said that no one was driving (not in the Tesla way) the “victim” vehicle in at least three of the crashes. However, someone was driving the vehicle that did the crashing.
Prosecutors also claim the smooth criminals, in some cases, busted out windows with a hammer to make the damage worse. They would also allegedly put weights in the seats to deploy airbags when no one was in the other car.
How did they fake that many injuries?
The tome published by the prosecutors of the indictment claims that once the “car crashes” would “happen,” the accused “sought emergency room and medical treatment for fictitious, fabricated and exaggerated accident symptoms and injuries.” The group of conspirators would then hire a personal injury lawyer.
Autoblog says that one woman – the live-in girlfriend of a main conspirator – worked as a case manager at a Tri-Cities personal injury law firm and personally handled communications with insurance companies regarding the claims. That was pretty dang clever. However, the less clever part came when they tried to pull a grift one day after buying a brand-new car and insuring it.
The hijinx continued when a sister claimed a car crash with her brother in one of the cases. Apparently, a sibling crashing into another sibling makes car insurance folks catch a whiff of something funky. If that weren’t enough, the alleged fraud group once pulled a crash with six people, all claiming injury. This claim returned a sum of $390,000. There was another claim that followed for $81,000.
Who done it?
The 23 people charged with fraud include four married couples, three sets of siblings, and a father and son. The family’s operation allegedly ran for three years in multiple cities across multiple states. Some of the ground they covered was Tri-Cities, California, Michigan, Nevada, and British Columbia. Autoblog states that only 19 of the 23 have been apprehended, leaving four fugitives at large.
The charges the group is facing are pretty rough. Across the board, charges include mail fraud; wire fraud; conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud; conspiracy to commit health care fraud; tampering with a witness; attempted tampering with evidence; conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, and making false statements within jurisdiction of the executive branch. One of the conspirators is facing 64 felony charges alone.
If that wasn’t bad enough, there’s even another defendant who isn’t being charged with any of the phony car crashes; he is being charged with a pile of felonies in attempts to cover up the case. The feds say he threatened physical violence, lied to the FBI, and made a false claim that an FBI agent had solicited a $22,000 bribe to make the case go away.
Was it worth it?
I dare say no. Autoblog crunched the numbers. The family netted a total of $962,300. This figure split 23 ways over three years comes out to be less than $14k a year per person. That means each member of the alleged crime group would have made more money simply working a minimum wage job.