The New York State Insurance Department’s Frauds Bureau (FB) set new records last year for the investigation and apprehension of persons suspected of committing insurance fraud in the State. I
investigations resulted in 534 arrests, a 10 percent increase over the year 2000, according to statistics contained in the Department’s newly released Annual Frauds Report.
Superintendent of Insurance Gregory V. Serio, stated that “These results speak for themselves – increases in arrests during 2001 and a 381% increase since 1994 are evidence that under Governor Pataki’s leadership the Department is effectively combating fraud. In combination with the Department’s aggressive work against fraud, we are protecting New York’s consumers from the results of insurance fraud–higher rates.”
In addition to the record number of arrest, the bulletin sited other highlights detailed in its Annual Frauds Report. In response to the attack on the World Trade Center, the FB instituted a dedicated hotline and fax line for reporting potential fraud, established a procedure for fast-tracking WTC-related fraud claims, and staffed an emergency center 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. It expanded its outreach program and now conducts training for the NYPD and other local police academies aimed at police officers, who are often the first to respond to auto accidents.
The FB coordinated the first statewide sweep ever conducted in New York, which led to the arrest of more than 40 suspects in May for workers’ compensation and no-fault fraud, as well as various other types of insurance fraud. In December, the FB along with the Queens District Attorney’s Office charged 112 persons,among them doctors, lawyers and medical clinic personnel, for their participation in a scheme to swindle auto insurers by submitting nearly $1 million in fraudulent bills.
New Yorkers pay the second highest auto rates in the nation (just behind New Jersey), The NYSID sites widespread fraud as one of the reasons, and has therefore made fighting it a top priority. Last year Governor Pataki named the State’s Attorney General as a Special Prosecutor to coordinate efforts to combat auto insurance fraud. The FB developed a strategy for partnership and cooperation in the investigation and prosecution of auto fraud cases.
Serio issued a strong warning that “New York State will not tolerate criminals making money by defrauding the insurance industry and our year end statistics make it clear, if you commit insurance fraud in New York State, we will find and arrest you.” He also urged the legislature to “make 2002 the year they make the meaningful changes necessary to protect New York’s policyholders from the $1 billion a year fraud tax.”
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