Lessons learned from ICBC's 2009 fraud files

The high cost of lying is the lesson for March's Fraud Prevention Month

VANCOUVER, March 9 /CNW/ - A driver crashes his car then claims it was stolen; an owner sets his car on fire then gets a bill from the Fire Department; and drivers, old and new, pay the price for not telling the truth. The high cost of lying is the lesson learned from these stories from ICBC's 2009 fraud files, which are released to coincide with March's Canadian Fraud Prevention Month.

"It was stolen before the crash"

    One owner called police to report a stolen car - two hours after it was
    involved in a crash. He told police it had been stolen two days earlier
    but he just now noticed it was missing. His story fell apart when ICBC's
    Special Investigation Unit (SIU) was able to confirm that he called a
    taxi minutes after the crash from a nearby location. He ended up pleading
    guilty to driving while disqualified, hit and run, public mischief and
    fraud and was ordered to pay almost $50,000 for the cost of damages.

    Another driver totalled his boss's truck then lied to police about it
    being stolen. End result: he was fined $4,000 because, as the judge said:
    "When someone abuses the insurance system, they are effectively
    defrauding their fellow citizens."

    "It was stolen before the fire"

    Two hours after his car was destroyed by fire, the owner called police to
    report it stolen. Evidence presented in court led to a confession that he
    had set fire to the car himself to collect the insurance. He was
    sentenced to 12 months probation, 100 hours of community service and was
    ordered to pay the Fire Department almost $1,000 to cover part of the
    cost of putting out the fire.

    "Yes, I'm the principal operator"

    A recent crash teaches us all a lesson about the importance of correctly
    answering the annual insurance renewal question: "Are you the principal
    operator?" Falsely declaring someone else as the principal operator saved
    one owner a few hundred dollars in premiums on a brand new vehicle, but
    it was totalled in a crash and now the owner is out of pocket about
    $50,000. Please check your policy to ensure you don't make the same
    costly mistake.

    "A learner learns the hard way"

    A young driver learned an expensive lesson about the perils of ignoring
    the requirements of the Graduated Licensing Program and then lying about
    it. Driving without an experienced driver over 25 in the car is not
    allowed for "Learners", but that was the case when the young driver
    crashed her father's car. To make matters worse, she lied about being
    alone. Witnesses told a different story which, resulted in a court-
    ordered payment of $26,000.

Insurance fraud is not a victimless crime; it costs each of ICBC's 3.1 million customers about $100 to $150 per year - that's why ICBC invests upwards of $8 million in fraud prevention each year.

ICBC investigated more than 2,800 cases of alleged fraud in 2009. ICBC takes all allegations seriously and follows up on all tips and information. The public can help by reporting suspicious, exaggerated or fraudulent claims to ICBC's fraud tips line at 604-661-6844 or 1-800-661-6844, toll free from anywhere in the province. Tip information is confidential and callers can remain anonymous.

For further information: Media contacts: Mark Jan Vrem, (604) 982-2476