December 20, 2010 – Modern science and solid investigation work played key roles in the unearthing of individuals who attempted to defraud Manitoba Public Insurance, which released its annual list of Top Five auto insurance frauds.
Manitoba’s No. 1 fraudster was exposed through the use of DNA testing, while another fraudster simply had a case of the ‘guilts’ when he admitted to a crime committed years earlier. Both files were among several thousand of suspicious claims which were meticulously reviewed by the company’s Special Investigations Unit. By uncovering these and other attempts at auto insurance fraud, the SIU recovered undeserved benefits and denied fraudulent claims totaling over $50 million over the last five 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 ‘Mr. DNA’
Vehemently denying he had crashed his car – which caused the airbag to deploy – the owner was adamant his vehicle had been stolen. Mr. ‘DNA’ maintained his innocence, despite the statement of an eyewitness who arrived shortly after the vehicle had crashed into pole which was located only blocks from the home of Mr. ‘DNA’.
The airbag, which had blood on it, was subsequently seized by MPI and sent to a lab for testing. DNA testing conclusively proved that the blood belonged to the vehicle owner, who later pleaded guilty to Making a False Statement.
In addition to a fine of $350, Mr. ‘DNA’ agreed to withdraw his vehicle damage claim with Manitoba Public Insurance valued at $12,900. ‘Mr. DNA’ also agreed to reimburse the public auto insurer $3,437 in investigative costs.
No. 2 ‘Guilty Conscience’
A Winnipeg man had a major case of guilt. He contacted Manitoba Public Insurance and admitted to deliberately burning a vehicle – four years after the act.
The man explained that he had been the former fianc� of the vehicle owner and needed to admit to his criminal actions.
The man agreed to repay $3,782 to Manitoba Public Insurance, in addition to receiving a fine of $864 after pleading guilty to Fraud Under $5,000.
No. 3 ‘Letter of Apology’
The Winnipeg man reported that his vehicle was struck by another motor vehicle as it was located in a parking stall at his apartment complex. There was damage to the passenger front bumper. The owner stated that he did not know who caused the damage and that he was not in the vehicle at the time of the damage.
Thanks to information provided to MPI’s Special Investigation Unit, an investigation was opened on the file. The investigation discovered that a witness had seen a vehicle collide with a snow bank and stop sign. The witness was able to provide the licence plate of the vehicle and part of a front spoiler which had been left at the crash scene.
It was subsequently confirmed that the damage to the vehicle was consistent with the vehicle travelling over an object similar to a curb or snow/ice barrier and striking a fixed object with the right front corner.
The man subsequently pleaded guilty to fraud under $5,000. He was ordered to pay restitution of $240 to MPI, sentenced to 15 months probation, perform 120 community service hours and, write a letter of apology for his criminal actions to the President/CEO of Manitoba Public Insurance.
No. 4 ‘Not too Productive’
After being injured in an auto crash, the Winkler man said his level of function was extremely limited and he was essentially sedentary as a result of the injuries. He said the injuries prevented him from working his job on a production line. He was approved to received income replacement payments.
As the weeks moved on, the man was extremely diligent in filling out his activity logs, all the while claiming he was all but confined to his home.
The MPI case manager, who had handled hundreds of similar cases, became suspicious of the man’s state of health, and moved the file the SIU for a closer look. The investigation discovered the man was able to fully function and clearly able to return to work.
The man was ordered to pay restitution of $13,784 to MPI, in addition to receiving a $1,000 fine after pleading guilty to Fraud Over $5,000.
No. 5 ‘Selective Memory’
The Winnipeg man called Manitoba Public Insurance to report that his pick-up truck had been stolen from in front of his house. But this theft wasn’t quite as it appeared.
Due to some suspicious details, the claim was forwarded to the SIU for a closer look. The investigation discovered that the vehicle owner had willingly given his truck to a friend, who was driving it and a boat out to the Whiteshell provincial park. During the trip the truck broke down and the friend called to inform the owner, who said he was going to report that the truck had been stolen.
Based on this information, a judge found the truck owner guilty of Attempt Fraud Under $5,000 and Public Mischief. The vehicle owner received a fine of $577 and was given one day in jail for the mischief conviction.
The man was also ordered to pay restitution of $720 to MPI to recover the costs incurred in towing the truck back to Winnipeg.
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.