Scamming cyclist, cheating party girl among top Canadian insurance frauds

MARLENE HABIB Canadian Press Friday, December 26, 2003

TORONTO (CP) - The cyclist thought he had his insurance-claim tracks covered: he had his girlfriend run him over with her car, and then stuck a toothpick up his nose to aggravate his bleeding.

The devious bike-rider copped $22,000 in compensation. But the scam - among the Insurance Bureau of Canada's top 10 frauds of 2003 - backfired. The cyclist was later taken to court when insurance investigators discovered the man had deliberately injured himself to get his blood - and the insurance money - flowing.

Another noted case involved a woman who held so many wild parties that they trashed the home she bought with a $250,000 settlement from an auto accident.

She was nailed on insurance fraud when a scheme she and a beau came up with to burn down the house backfired. She also tried to collect insurance for items she reported as smoke-damaged - but were later found in a pawn shop.

While the boneheaded schemes of would-be fraud artists are outrageous, the cost of insurance fraud - $1.3 billion in 2003 - is nothing to laugh at, said insurance bureau spokesman Rick Dubin.

"It never fails to amaze me that people think they can get away with these ill-thought-out schemes to defraud insurers and burden honest policy holders," said Dubin, vice-president of investigations.

"Insurance fraud costs us all," said Dubin, adding that at least 15 per cent of premiums pay for the cost of fraud.

The bureau's annual top 10 fraud list aims to raise awareness about the seriousness of fake insurance claims, no matter how innocent they may appear, he said.

"When someone submits an exaggerated or false insurance claim, we all end up paying more for insurance. This year we have been seeing a greater prevalence of staged accident rings claiming for accident benefits."

"It's these kind of claims that are the most expensive kind of abuse on the property and casualty insurance industry."

A rundown of other dishonest insurance claims in 2003:

-A drunken man who fled the scene after crashing his pickup truck into another vehicle later set his truck on fire and then reported it stolen in an attempt to get insurance money.

-Forty-four passengers on a bus that was rammed by a truck filed compensation claims as part of a bogus rehabilitation therapy scheme. The truck driver and the passengers were paid $100 each for taking part in the scam.

-A man whose car was involved in a single-vehicle accident told police he was drunk and asked a man he met at a bar to drive the car home. Police and insurance investigators became suspicious when the car's owner said he couldn't remember the friend. When police asked the owner to be tested to see if DNA samples from the car's airbag were his match, the owner sent a friend to give his blood sample instead. His friend's photo and fingerprints revealed the ruse.

-A paralegal was charged after insurance investigators revealed he taught 59 friends, family members and work colleagues how to stage fake accidents.

-The case of a man who received $40,000 in insurance six years ago after he reported his SUV stolen was reopened after police found the vehicle wrapped in a tarpaulin inside a rental storage unit.

-The owner of a massage-therapy clinic was charged with fraud after it was discovered masseuses were treating clients only once but filling out insurance claims for several massages.

-An accountant's insurance claim for a stolen air conditioner was denied after it was discovered the unit was repossessed because he didn't pay for it.

Copyright 2003 The Canadian Press

We all make jokes about doing things like this sometimes but I am sure most of us would never actually try it. (I hope)