January, 2007 – The travel expenses claim was all wet. The “stolen” car was found in its real owner’s driveway. Those are just two of the fraudulent claims made last year to Manitoba Public Insurance.
Motorists saved nearly $40 million over the last three years, thanks to Manitoba Public Insurance’s anti-fraud Special Investigations Unit (SIU). The figure is based on an estimate of money recovered and fraudulent claims denied.
But insurance fraud is a billion-dollar problem in Canada. In its ongoing efforts to battle auto insurance crime and heighten public awareness, Manitoba Public Insurance has released its list of top five frauds that passed through the courts last year.
Manitoba Public Insurance’s TIPS Line number is: 985-8477.
No. 1: A pool full of trouble
Her doctor had suggested swimming might relieve the pain from an auto crash. For 18 months, the Cranberry Portage woman dutifully submitted for reimbursement her travel expenses and pool-pass receipt to her Manitoba Public Insurance case manager. There was just one problem: the woman never actually went to the pool. She landed in a pool full of trouble after the case manager became suspicious and began asking questions. Pool employees clearly remembered the woman and admitted they had found it strange that she would purchase a pass, but never actually use the facility. After her scam was discovered, the woman pled guilty to fraud over $5,000. She was ordered to pay restitution of $12,000 to the public auto insurer and serve a one-year conditional sentence with a 24-hour curfew, except for pre-approved work hours, emergency medical situations, and a short period of time for shopping. She must also perform 144 hours of community service work.
No. 2: Lien on me
A woman claimed her beloved Camaro had been stolen from her back yard while she was out at the lake. When the vehicle was not recovered, the adjuster proceeded to settle the loss. On running a lien check, the adjuster discovered a lien registered on the vehicle in another party’s name. When contacted by the alert adjuster, the other party produced documentation proving that the woman sold the Camaro just before the alleged “theft!” The insured, who cried throughout the sentencing, was convicted of Making a False Statement and fined $800.
No. 3: Expensive learning experience
The man said he had been involved in an accident while on his way to university, and opened a collision claim with the public insurer. But this straightforward claim quickly took a wrong turn when the driver of the second vehicle said a woman driver had hit his car. An independent third witness came forward and confirmed that a female had been driving the insured’s vehicle. The alert Manitoba Public Insurance adjuster referred the matter to the Special Investigations Unit. When confronted, the insured acknowledged that his girlfriend was driving by herself with a learner’s permit. He was convicted of Making a False Statement, and fined $750. His claim for vehicle damage in excess of $2,000 was denied, and he signed a Promissory Note for the third party damage, which was also in excess of $2,000.
No. 4: Not so brotherly love
The man claimed he suffered soft-tissue injuries when he was struck by a moving vehicle while crossing a Winnipeg street. In order to receive income replacement payments, the man produced a photocopy of a note allegedly prepared by one of his employers, outlining his salary and describing the injured man as dedicated, industrious, and reliable. The alert case manager noticed some irregularities and subsequently forwarded the file to the Special Investigations Unit. The scam was quickly discovered after it was found that the partner who allegedly signed the note was no longer with the company. To further cap the scam, the remaining partner, who happened to be the injured person’s brother, confirmed that the note was a forgery, that his brother had never worked for him, and that, even if he did, he would never pay him as much as the note said he was receiving! The man pled guilty to Making a False Application, and was fined $750. No monies were paid out on his claim for income replacement benefits and physiotherapy treatment.
No. 5: Key evidence
The insured reported his 2003 Hyundai stolen, even though it is a vehicle with a transponder key ignition. And the owner claimed he had both keys. The vehicle was later recovered with no sign of forced entry or ignition damage. How was the vehicle started and driven away? The file needed a closer look and was forwarded to the Special Investigations Unit. The subsequent investigation discovered the man had arranged for a copycat key to be shown to the MPI adjuster. At the man’s trial, it was established that the insured, not wanting to keep up payments on the vehicle, had given the missing transponder key to a third party, with instructions to steal the vehicle so he could put in a total theft claim. The insured was convicted of Fraud Over $5,000 and fined a total of $4,027. Nothing was paid on his claim, which at one point carried a reserve in the $20,000 range.