MANITOBA, January 4, 2005 — In its ongoing efforts to battle auto insurance fraud and enhance awareness of this crime, Manitoba Public Insurance has released its Top Five Frauds which passed through the courts last year. (Names of the guilty parties have been omitted to save possible embarrassment to family members.)
No. 1: Temper temper!
Distraught and upset, a man told police that someone had pulled a gun on him and carjacked his vehicle. The vehicle was found several days later. It had extensive damage to the undercarriage and the engine was seized due to lack of fluids. An investigation was launched by the Winnipeg Police Service and the Special Investigations Unit of Manitoba Public Insurance. The facts differed considerably from the story told by the 24-year-old man. In fact, the man had caused the damage after crashing his car while leaving a Winnipeg bar. Dozens of witnesses had seen the man drive away in a rage after fighting with another person. Several people had written down the licence plate number.
The man pleaded guilty to Fraud Over $5,000. He received a fine of $2,500 and was ordered to pay restitution of $5,752 to the public insurer.
No. 2: Not such an accidental crash
A man said icy roads caused him to rear-end another vehicle at a Winnipeg intersection. Both vehicles were badly damaged and written off. But this was not your usual accident, as discovered by the Special Investigations Unit of Manitoba Public Insurance. Information obtained during the investigation showed that the accident was in fact staged by both parties. An independent witness said the two men had been talking only minutes before the crash. One vehicle then backed up about 500 feet and rammed the vehicle at the stop sign.
At their trial, the two men pleaded guilty to Make False Statement and were each fined $2,500.
No. 3: With friends like this . . .
A man claimed his vehicle had been stolen at a party and opened a theft claim with the public insurer. To bolster his story, he provided the name of a good friend who could verify the facts. Several days later, the vehicle was located. The damage was so severe that it had to be written off. When the Manitoba Public Insurance adjuster followed up, the “good friend” quickly refuted the story, explaining the vehicle owner did not want to spend money on repairs and deliberately wrecked his own car. The “good friend” said honesty was the best policy and that any involvement in a criminal matter could be detrimental to his new career in law enforcement.
The insured pleaded guilty to Fraud Under $5,000 and paid restitution of $482.10.
No. 4: Truth is stranger than fiction
Instead of just admitting to being a horrible driver, a Winnipeg grocery store worker decided to spin a tale of Agatha Christie proportions. The 23-year-old man opened a hit-and-run claim with Manitoba Public Insurance, explaining his car had been hit while parked in the lot outside his place of business. There was one problem: the damage was inconsistent with the man’s story. Manitoba Public Insurance investigators found that the vehicle must have been moving at the time of the collision. Eventually, the man admitted he had lied about the hit-and-run. Instead of being parked, the car had actually hit a no-parking sign and the cement base had caused the damage.
The man pleaded guilty to making a false statement. He was also responsible for paying for the damage to his car.
No. 5: Forgery 101
After colliding with another vehicle, a woman called Manitoba Public Insurance to report a claim. The call taker responded with more bad news — the woman’s insurance had been suspended two days earlier for failure to make a time payment. The woman was adamant she had paid off the balance in full, and had the receipts to prove it. When the woman provided copies of the alleged receipts, the adjuster noted that neither receipt had any date, time or receipt number, and requested the original receipts. When the supposed original receipts were dropped off, the alert adjuster noted that they differed from the previous copies. At this point, the Special Investigations Unit was notified.
The forgetful woman later pleaded guilty to attempted Fraud Over $5,000. She was fined $2,500 and was ordered to pay restitution of $3,241 to Manitoba Public Insurance.
Manitoba Public Insurance’s TIPS Line (985-8477) receives about 50 tips a month. These calls resulted in 128 investigations last year, saving premium payers about $2.7 million.