Investigations by The New York State Insurance Department Frauds Bureau led to 755 arrests in 2008 — a slight increase over 2007 and and the highest arrest total since 2004, the department said.
“Arrests for crimes like auto give-ups and fraudulent no-fault insurance claims have increased because of the depressed economy,” said Superintendent Eric Dinallo, who also credited stepped-up cooperation with local officials across the state, and a renewed focus on major cases for the increase.
The bureau’s Major Case Unit conducted investigations leading to 126 arrests in 2008. The Unit was launched in January 2008 to handle complex cases of suspected fraud involving no-fault insurance, commercial rate evasion, health care and workers’ compensation.
The bureau reported 154 arrests for no-fault auto insurance fraud, a 52 percent increase over 2007.
The no-fault cases included the arrests of 62 people following a 19-month investigation by the Bureau’s Major Case Unit and other law enforcement agencies. The individuals arrested were accused of staging more than 40 auto accidents over a three-year period so that phony no-fault insurance claims could be filed.
Arrests for auto give-ups — a name for cases involving suspects who abandon their cars or arrange to have vehicles disposed of so they can file insurance claims — increased 35 percent over the previous year, jumping from 96 to 130 arrests. The crime is often associated with individuals who find themselves no longer able to afford vehicle payments or upkeep.
The report also noted:
— A total of 402 criminal convictions obtained in various cases statewide.
— $2.9 million in court-ordered restitution to victims as the result of Bureau investigations.
— $1.2 million in savings by insurance companies in connection with the investigation of fraudulent claims.
— 23,054 reports of suspected fraud referred to the Bureau, a 4.2 percent increase over 2007.
Source: New York State Insurance Department
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