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California is seeing a sharp rise in fake, fraudulent car accidents. Innocent people driving on California’s roads are suddenly finding themselves caught in the middle of these coldhearted schemes to cause accidents and defraud insurance companies.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), staged car accidents are becoming a big business that costs billions in U.S. insurance fraud. Because these fraudulent accidents are so varied and involve so many potential victims, they’re extremely difficult to prevent.
California’s Rise in Staged Auto Accidents
Right here in California, a group of car fraudsters recently went to jail after a thorough investigation by the District Attorney’s Office. The criminalThis was a particularly violent group that followed the same game plan every time: They would cause car accidents, threaten victims with weapons, then attempt to collect money from insurance companies. Their crimes cost an estimated $330,000 and they were eventually convicted of assault with a deadly weapon and insurance fraud. group participated in 15 intentionally-created accidents that involved 21 victims in the San Fernando area.
In other cases, car insurance fraudsters merely act like they’re the true victims of traffic collisions and hope they’ll end up with insurance payouts. While it might sound like an easy get-rich-quick scheme, the price is steep. People can be injured or killed in these accidents.
Would You Recognize a Staged or Fraudulent Accident?
You might not realize you’ve been in a staged car accident until long after the crash has already happened. These schemes can be complex and quite convincing.
Auto crime experts have identified five main types of fraudulent auto accident schemes everyone should know:
- The Left-Turn Drive Down. As you attempt to make a left, an oncoming driver stops and waves you across, then intentionally slams into you.
- The Right-Turn Drive Down. As you make a right, another driver purposely hits you and claims you didn’t have the right of way.
- The Curb Drive Down. As you pull away from a curb or out into traffic, another car swerves across lanes to crash into you. Then they claim you pulled out in front of them.
- The City Swoop and Squat. Common on city streets, this scheme involves multiple fraudsters in multiple cars who set up a dangerous crash and blame an innocent victim.
- The Freeway Swoop and Squat. The most dangerous of these schemes, this one happens at high speeds on freeways and expressways. Multiple criminals work together to cause an accident or create a chain-reaction crash, then most of them zoom away and leave a ringleader to collect on the insurance payout.
Certain people are more likely than others to be the victims of these schemes. Auto thieves who commit insurance fraud tend to target certain drivers due to stereotypes about their vulnerability and the potential for insurance claim compensation.
Common victims include:
- Older adults who might be less able to defend themselves
- Non-native English speakers who might have trouble understanding what’s happening
- Women and mothers with children who seem vulnerable to intimidation
- Luxury car owners because criminals assume the insurance payout will be higher
- Commercial truck drivers and big-rig drivers with large company insurance policies
How to Protect Yourself Before and After a Staged Accident
Although these fraudulent accidents are hard to predict, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself from becoming the next victim. While driving, stay vigilant and keep the following things in mind.
- Use dashcams and other vehicle technology that records what happens.
- Don’t tailgate because it increases the risk of a collision.
- Don’t road race or fall victim to road rage. Someone could be setting you up to crash.
- If a crash happens, don’t admit fault and don’t talk about the accident in detail.
- Ignore the other driver’s instructions. Focus on the police/medical workers.
- Take note of any fake witnesses who suddenly appear out of nowhere.
- Don’t accept a ride or tow from a person/company you didn’t contact yourself unless they were called by law enforcement.
Your actions in the minutes and days after the accident are very important. Be cautious about pushy people who are trying to direct you to a certain auto repair shop or doctor. This might be one of their associates.
It’s hard to know who you can trust when people are trying to deceive you. Your car accident lawyer is one of the only people you can trust to have your best interests in mind.
Talk to Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers about what happened in your crash and what seemed suspicious about it. Even if nobody else seems to be on your side, we’re here to listen to your story and investigate. There could be plenty of evidence that backs up your case, leads to a valuable car accident claim, and prevents criminals from getting away with fraud.
We Handle Your Accident Claim So You Can Focus On Your Life
After your car accident, contact the attorney team at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many areas of personal injury law, including car accidents. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering from your accident while we handle the legal details. Call 877-380-8852 today for a free case evaluation.