6 shadiest auto insurance fraud schemes

Staged accidents
Counterfeit air bags © Evgeny Murtola/

Staged accidents are rising at an alarming rate, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Insurers across the U.S. reported a 102 percent increase in suspected cases of this type of fraud from 2008 to 2011, the bureau says.

Nationwide Insurance says common types of staged crashes include:

  • Swoop and squat: Two vehicles trap a victim in a rear-end collision.
  • Drive down: When waiting to make a left turn, the victim is lured into turning early by an oncoming fraudster who waits and then proceeds just in time to collide.
  • Wave down: Two vehicles set up a crash with a victim who's given a wave that it's safe to pull out of a parking lot or side street.
  • Enhanced damages: In a legitimate accident, the not-at-fault driver causes additional damage to his or her own vehicle to pump up the claim.

Florida lawyer Russel Lazega advises anyone who has been in a wreck to gather as much evidence as possible right away.

"Often car crash cases don't make it to court until years later, when witnesses are gone and cars have been fixed," he says. "Demand a police report, take lots of pictures and get the contact information for any witnesses."


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