Dodging Staged Auto Accident Fraud
Consider this: you are your way home from a busy day at work and suddenly another car cuts off the driver in front of you. You slam on your brakes but to no avail- you rear-end the person in front of you. Sounds like a typical accident, right? Unfortunately its not; you’ve just been had by a well-organized criminal ring that staged the entire thing.
How it Works:
This scam is known as the “swoop and squat” because the first car “swoops” and the second car “squats” in front of you. After the bogus accident the car you rear-ended (usually jammed full of passengers) will file bogus injury claims. The injuries from the auto accident may vary from whip lash to other soft-tissue injuries, which are all difficult for a doctor to confirm. They may even go as far as going to unethical physical therapists, chiropractors, lawyers or auto repair technicians to further exaggerate their auto accident claims.
Here are some similar auto accident scams to look out for:
The Drive Down: You’re attempting to merge when another driver waves you forward. Instead of letting you in he slams into your car. When the police arrive, he denies ever motioning you.
The Sideswipe: As you round a corner at a busy intersection with multiple turn lanes, you drift slightly into the lane next to you. The car in that lane steps on the gas and sideswipes you.
The T-Bone: You’re crossing an intersection when a car coming from a side street accelerates and hits your car. When the police arrive, the driver and several planted “witnesses” claim that you ran a stop sign.
How to Protect Yourself:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates that staged accidents cost the insurance industry upwards of $20 billion a year. Unfortunately, those losses get passed on to all of us in the form of higher insurance rates.
- If you’re in an accident, call the police immediately
- Report accident claims and don’t settle on-site with cash
- Be careful with your personal information that you give out on the scene of the accident – be mindful of identity theft
- If you can, photograph the car and passengers and write down names, addresses and numbers involved in the accident
- Use medical, car repair and legal professionals you know and trust