The biggest barrier to effectively prosecuting individuals who commit insurance fraud is finding an effective prosecutor, Scott Cassidy, chief of special prosecutions, Cook County State’s Attorney’s office said to a gathering of insurance fraud investigators, legal experts and law enforcement.
On May 21st, Des Plaines, Ill.-based the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) and Springfield, Ill.-base the Illinois Insurance Association held a summit to discuss various aspects of the fight against insurance fraud, including the topic of barriers to effective prosecutions.
“The high volume of cases and fraud’s sometimes complicated issues can often be a deterrent for prosecutors,” Cassidy said. “The most important thing a special investigative unit officer or company can do is develop a strong, working relationship with a prosecutor.”
Cassidy added that it is also important to put a “face” on the case with details, explanations and background that personalize the individual or group charged in the case and helps the prosecutor determine how to spin case to the judge.
“You want a prosecutor to become passionate about your case so he will see it through to the end,” he said. “For that to happen you need to spend the time and energy to give him all the details and let him become invested in the case.”
An additional deterrent is that attorneys often find “white collar” crime with hefty dollar amounts confusing. “We aren’t numbers people,” Cassidy said.
NICB backgrounders concur with Cassidy and conclude that insurance industry studies indicate 10 percent or more of property/casualty insurance claims are fraudulent. And fraud is the second most costly white-collar crime in America behind tax evasion.
Moderator of the panel, NICB’ s Bill Schroeder said “Add it all up and insurance fraud costs Americans billions of dollars each year. Not only does fraud cause higher insurance rates, but it also raises our taxes and inflates prices for consumer goods.”
Cassidy encouraged insurance investigators to utilize the NICB database and work thorugh the organization which has a reputation for quick turn around time and networking with all involved, he said.