ICBC names top five frauds for 2008



    More than 2,800 cases investigated to protect customers from fraudsters

    VANCOUVER, Feb. 16 /CNW/ - A staged accident ring, a bribe and a
fraudulently reported stolen motorcycle are among ICBC's 2008 list of Top Five
Frauds, highlighting individuals and groups who were caught trying to defraud
the public insurer and its customers last year. They were among 2,800 cases of
fraud investigated and 54 convictions achieved by ICBC's Special
Investigations Unit (SIU) in 2008.
    "We estimate fraud and exaggeration costs each of our 3.1 million
customers in the range of $100 to $150 per year," said Steven Tripp, manager
of ICBC's SIU. "That amounts to theft from our customers. We're committed to
protecting them and to keeping rates low and stable."

    No. 1 'Staged accident ring'

    In September 2008, a court awarded ICBC more than $369,000 from 22 people
who worked together to defraud ICBC. This group of friends and family members
staged 12 intentional crashes dating back to 1995. In addition to the court
award, ICBC secured $226,000 in settlements from various defendants.

    No. 2 'It's not a bribe, it's a tip'

    A Vancouver woman, who'd failed the knowledge test three times and the
driving test another three times, placed two one hundred dollar bills on the
driver examiner's seat before he got into the car. She told investigators she
thought the 'tip' would ensure she passed the test. The woman was sentenced to
nine months conditional house arrest after pleading guilty to trying to bribe
the driver examiner.

    No. 3 'Maybe if I destroy the evidence...'

    An Abbotsford man reported his motorcycle stolen. After paying out the
claim, ICBC discovered the bike had been abandoned in Sasquatch Provincial
Park weeks before the alleged theft.
    SIU officers interviewed the man and during a recorded statement, he
claimed he lent the bike to a friend who crashed it and wouldn't return it.
The man then grabbed the digital recording device and ran out of the Claims
Centre. The SIU officer caught up to him but not before the man smashed the
recording device to the ground, in an unsuccessful attempt to destroy the
evidence.
    The man pleaded guilty to making a false statement to ICBC and mischief;
he was fined $2,000 and ordered to pay $3,069 in restitution. He was also
sentenced to six months probation and 15 hours of community service.

    No. 4 'Caught on tape, working'

    After crashing his vehicle, this driver claimed he was too injured to
continue to work or even drive. Surveillance video not only showed him working
and driving but lifting heavy boxes and equipment as he moved his business to
another location.
    He pleaded guilty to making a false statement to ICBC and was fined
$2,000. He also repaid the $4,400 ICBC had paid him for lost wages.
    "Inflating injury and damage claims is a common form of fraud," said
Tripp. "We have to safeguard our customers from fraudulent acts and those
whose false claims threaten stable rates for our customers."

    No. 5 'Restorative justice at work'

    A young Kelowna man admitted to totalling his grandmother's car, after
first claiming he was the victim of a hit and run. He opted for the
restorative justice program, writing a letter of apology to community members
involved, speaking to media about his experience and lessons learned and
performing two days of community service. He also had to repay ICBC $18,900
for damage to his grandmother's vehicle.

    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:

For further information: Media contacts: Adam Grossman, (604) 982-1332

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