Attorney General Brian Sandoval today announced that the Nevada Department of Justice, Insurance Fraud Unit, obtained more convictions per capita than any other state. The statistics for insurance crimes were compiled by the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud late last year for each of 43 states that have fraud investigation and prosecution bureaus.
The Coalition, in an end-of-year publication for 2003, stated: “Nevada convicted the most swindlers per capita last year, logging about 10 convictions for every 100,000 residents.”
“This further demonstrates the effectiveness of our Insurance Fraud Unit,” said Sandoval. “We had a record year for referrals and convictions in fiscal 2003 due to the dedication of Senior Deputy Attorney General Marty Howard and his relentless team of investigators and support staff.”
A recent national survey of public attitudes about insurance fraud reveals one of four people say it is okay to lie to one’s insurance company in order to obtain money. Senior Deputy Attorney General Marty Howard, Director of the IFU, finds these statistics very disturbing. “You would think more people would realize that lying to their insurance company to obtain undeserved benefits is stealing and is therefore morally wrong. You would think that the possibility of being caught and punished would deter those who don’t. For some it does. For the rest, well, the chances are very good that they’ll be dealing with us. It is not a victimless crime. Honest policyholders pay the cost for insurance fraud.”
Howard also described the severe criminal penalties for insurance fraud: “Insurance fraud is a felony in Nevada just like grand larceny or theft. You can go to prison for up to five years and face a $5,000.00 fine. A felony conviction affects not only your freedom, but your right to vote, your right to hold certain jobs, and will severely impact your family. We intend to continue to get this message out and get dishonest people to think a little more seriously about the consequences of filing false insurance claims.”
Insurance fraud is one of the costliest white-collar crimes in the United States, ranking second only to tax evasion. A study by Hartford, Connecticut-based Conning & Co. estimated that fraud costs the insurance industry $96 billion dollars annually. One figure stands out in the report; that insurance fraud costs families $5,000.00 each year. This amount includes not only higher premiums, but also the resulting higher prices for consumer goods and services.
Questions regarding the IFU may be forwarded directly to Senior Deputy Attorney General Marty Howard at (702) 486-3120.
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