January, 2010 – A vehicle owner who made a bogus auto theft claim. A caregiver who cared for no one. An impaired driver who claimed he had only one drink. These three individuals demonstrated there’s no lack of imagination – or sheer nerve – when it comes to committing auto insurance fraud.
And their misguided efforts earned them a placing on Manitoba Public Insurance’s 2009 list of Top Five Frauds, a dubious honour bestowed annually to heighten awareness that committing auto insurance fraud is not a wise decision.
This year about 3,000 suspicious claims were meticulously reviewed by Manitoba Public Insurance’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) to save the corporation – and honest motorists – money. By uncovering the following top five attempts at fraud, as well as numerous others, the SIU recovered undeserved benefits and denied fraudulent claims totaling nearly $30 million over the last three years.
Anyone knowing someone who is involved in auto insurance fraud is encouraged to call the Manitoba Public Insurance TIPS Line: 985-8477 or toll-free 1-877-985-8477. All calls are anonymous.
No. 1 — ‘Bad Timing’
The vehicle owner claimed he left his vehicle parked at a hotel where he had spent the evening drinking. He told Manitoba Public Insurance that when he showed up two days later to retrieve his car, it had vanished.
However, Mr. Bad Timing’s story quickly unravelled thanks to the Winnipeg police. It seems the day Mr. Bad Timing claimed his vehicle went missing it was actually parked in his driveway – a fact confirmed by police, who had had attended to his residence. Police were acting on a report of a hit and run from an alert witness who provided a plate number. Police were able to trace an address back to Mr. Bad Timing.
Mr. Bad Timing’s vehicle was in the driveway with damage to the front end, confirmed police. When the details of the police investigation were brought to Mr. Bad Timing’s attention he quickly admitted responsibility. He subsequently entered a guilty plea to charges of Fraud Over $5000 and Fail to Exchange Particulars.
Mr. Bad Timing was fined $1,150 and agreed to repay $1,200 back to Manitoba Public Insurance for his involvement in the hit and run.
No. 2 — ‘Money For Nothing’
After her child was injured in an automobile crash, the mother began receiving a Caregiver Allowance from Manitoba Public Insurance.
After several months of receiving payments the mother reported there was little improvement in the child’s condition. Due to the nature of the injuries suffered by the child, this information raised the suspicions of the case manager, who was able to confirm that the child had actually been apprehended by Child and Family Services shortly after the accident – a fact which the mother neglected to tell Manitoba Public Insurance.
The mother pled guilty to Fraud Under $5,000 and placed on probation and sentenced to perform 150 hours of community service.
No. 3 — ‘Not So Injured’
After being injured in an automobile crash, the woman told her case manager that she was unable to work due to the injuries from the crash. The woman, who was a professional driver, began receiving income replacement payments.
After several months the woman insisted she was too injured and traumatized to drive. This information raised the suspicions of the case manager who referred the woman’s file to the SIU for investigation. It was soon discovered that she had resumed her job and was driving daily.
The woman was convicted of Fraud Over $5,000 and one count of Driving Disqualified. She received two fines totalling $4,000 and ordered to pay $17,917 in restitution back to the public auto insurer.
No. 4 — ‘One for the Road’
RCMP received a call of a single vehicle rollover on the perimeter highway. The sole occupant, who appeared to be impaired, was found in the backseat of the vehicle, claiming he only had one drink prior to the collision.
The vehicle owner opened a damage claim which was paid by Manitoba Public Insurance. However, the man’s hospital blood samples were ultimately seized and it was confirmed that at the time of the collision his blood alcohol concentration was between .156 and .193.
The man entered a guilty plea to Making a False Statement. He received a fine of $2,900 and ordered to pay full restitution of $24,442 to Manitoba Public Insurance.
No. 5 — ‘Mysterious Re-appearance’
The man reported that his truck had been stolen. He provided statements to police and to Manitoba Public Insurance that the doors were locked and he was in possession of all keys.
The claim was paid, but two years later someone tried to register the vehicle. This transaction was immediately detected by MPI’s computer system. Winnipeg police subsequently seized the vehicle which had no signs of forced entry and an operational anti-theft device.
When approached by SIU investigators, the original owner admitted he had parked the vehicle and given the keys to an acquaintance, who two years later wanted to register the vehicle. He plead guilty to Making a False Statement and was fined $2,500. He also had to repay $20,124 back to Manitoba Public Insurance.
About Manitoba Public Insurance
Manitoba Public Insurance is a non-profit Crown Corporation that has provided basic automobile coverage since 1971. Our services are available throughout Manitoba in claim centres and Customer Service centres. www.mpi.mb.ca.