ICBC lays 175 fraud-related criminal charges in 2005

NORTH VANCOUVER, April 10 – B.C. motorists saved more than $73 million in 2005, thanks to ICBC (Insurance Corporation of British Columbia) anti-fraud programs. Savings are based on the estimated value of fraudulent claims which were denied, money recovered, and savings generated through fraud prevention.

“Zero tolerance for fraud is one of ICBC’s strategies to help keep rates low and stable,” said Mark Withenshaw, ICBC vice-president of loss management. “We will not sit back and simply pass the cost of fraud onto our customers.”

ICBC’s anti-fraud efforts led to 175 criminal charges against 94 people last year. The number of criminal charges laid in 2005 was more than double the number laid in 2004.

Last year, ICBC’s team conducted over 3,300 investigations covering all types of suspected fraud, including: staged collisions, exaggerated claims, and licensing and identity fraud.

“ICBC has a number of checkpoints within our systems to help identify potential instances of fraud. We seek to identify fraudulent claims before money is paid out, but will also pursue them through the courts,” said Brian Sargent, ICBC manager of Fraud Prevention and Investigation.

Here are two actual stories from ICBC’s fraud files.

Hit and Run Mirror

A few scratches on a bumper were all the ICBC fraud team needed to identify the driver in a hit-and-run collision. A small blue smudge on the rear bumper of the claimant’s car revealed four of the six characters from the striking vehicle’s license plate. Investigators were able to identify four license plates with matching characters, registered in the municipality where the crash occurred. The potential leads were interviewed, and their vehicles were photographed. The truth was uncovered when one of the vehicles had damage to its bumper and license plate matching the imprint left on the claimant’s vehicle. Case closed.

Project Ram

A group of 21 individuals and three companies worked together in an attempt to defraud ICBC by staging crashes. By intentionally “ramming” their vehicles into one another, the fraudsters collected compensation for phony injuries and vehicle damage. From 1996 to 2001, the group staged 12 collisions throughout the Lower Mainland. But their fraud scheme was uncovered, thanks to a tip to ICBC’s fraud line. Last year, the case went to trial, and a B.C. Supreme Court jury awarded ICBC over $3.4 million in damages. Individual defendants were each assessed punitive damages from $55,000 to $900,000.

The general public is a helpful resource in cracking down on potential fraudsters. ICBC’s anonymous tip line recorded over 9,500 calls last year. Anyone with information on a suspicious, exaggerated, or fraudulent claim is encouraged to phone 604-661- 6844 or 1-800-661-6844.

About ICBC

The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) is a provincial Crown corporation established in 1973 to provide universal auto insurance to BC motorists. In addition, the Corporation is responsible for driver licensing, vehicle registration and licensing. For more information, go to