Insurance Crime Bureau Lists Top 10 Cities for Staged Accident Scams

March 10, 2006

In a worst-case scenario of greed-driven criminal activity, Waurd Demolaire, 25, of Brooklyn, New York, was convicted Feb. 16 by a Queens County jury of killing a 71-year-old grandmother in 2003.

Demolaire intentionally struck a vehicle driven by Alice Ross. The contact caused Ross to lose control and strike a tree dying at the scene from her injuries. This intentional “accident” was to form the basis for submitting a series of fraudulent claims to insurance companies in a practice that is sweeping the nation.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) is today releasing its list of the top 10 cities with the most staged accident activity in the nation. This information is derived solely from an analysis of pending NICB investigative files*.

While only 10 cities are identified, staged accidents and related insurance fraud schemes occur in every state in the nation. The 10 cities ranked from most to least activity are:

1. Miami
2. Los Angeles
3. Houston
4. Chicago
5. Philadelphia
6. Tampa
7. Cleveland
8. Orlando
9. New York
10. Boston

Staged or “caused” accidents are but one of the numerous kinds of fraud committed daily around the country and they contribute to the $30 billion lost annually to fraud—a loss that is ultimately recovered through increased premiums.

Robert Bryant, president and chief executive officer of NICB, said today, “All of us need to be aware of staged accident scams because all of us are potential targets. NICB has investigators and analysts working around the country with their law enforcement and insurance industry counterparts to detect, prevent, and prosecute these people before they make you their next mark.”

Scams of this type include the following:

•Panic stop is the most basic of the caused accidents. The suspect positions his vehicle in front of the victim’s vehicle and slams on the brakes causing a rear-end collision. The victim driver has no warning that the accident is about to occur.

•Drive down occurs when you try to merge into traffic or pull out of a parking space. The suspect driver waves you to proceed, then intentionally smashes into you. The suspect driver denies waving you on.

•Hit and run occurs when a suspect driver uses a damaged vehicle, drives it to a public location and claims to be the victim of a hit and run. The police are often called to verify damage.

•Sideswipe occurs in a dual left turn lane of a busy intersection. The victim driver in the inside lane drifts into the outer lane and is intentionally hit by the suspect driver in the outer lane.

•Swoop and squat occurs when the vehicle you are following is suddenly passed by another vehicle which “swoops” in front of it. This causes the vehicle in front of you to stop abruptly, or “squat”. As a result, you are unable to avoid colliding with the rear end of the squat vehicle. The swoop car races away, never to be seen again. The driver of the squat car submits vehicle damage and personal injury claims to your insurance company.

Be alert to these crimes and follow NICB’s tips should you ever be involved in an accident that you sense is suspicious.

•Maintain sufficient distance from the vehicle in front of you to allow ample braking time if it stops suddenly (a favorite tactic of staged accident criminals).

•Avoid tailgating.

•Keep a disposable camera in your glove box and photograph vehicle damage and all passengers and witnesses at the scene.

•Call the police to the scene of an accident for a report

The NICB is a non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to preventing, detecting and defeating insurance fraud and vehicle theft through information analysis, investigations, training, and public awareness.

Anyone with information concerning auto theft and insurance fraud can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 1-800-TEL-NICB (1-800-835-6422) or by visiting

*Methodology—this report is derived from a review of all active NICB investigative files which identified staged or caused accidents as the primary fraudulent activity. However, the total number of NICB fraud investigations involving staged or caused accidents as a related activity is much greater as many cases are routinely categorized as medical fraud or other fraud investigations.# # #

Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau

Topics Auto Fraud

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