Canadian Underwriter

York Regional Police lay 41 charges alleging false auto insurance claims, staged collisions

December 18, 2012   by Canadian Underwriter

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York Regional Police north of Toronto recently arrested and charged nine individuals in connection with alleged staged collisions.

The arrests were made as a result of the second phase of Project Sideswipe , an ongoing investigation into allegedly false auto insurance claims at medical rehabilitation and assessment centres in and near Toronto.

“As of December 13, 2012, nine suspects had been arrested and 41 charges, including participate in criminal organization, possession of proceeds of crime over $5,000 and money laundering have been laid,” York Regional Police announced in a press release this week.

The nine people charged this month were in addition to 51 individuals charged with 201 counts in the first phase of Project Sideswipe. Those charges included conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, fraud under $5,000, fraud over $5,000 and obstructing a police officer.

The investigation was originally launched by the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) in August 2010, which subsequently turned over its information to the police.

“IBC commends the York Regional Police efforts which have now resulted in charges against nine additional individuals on the Project Sideswipe investigations,” IBC stated in a press release Tuesday. “It is alleged that the nine individuals charged today, have been identified as current or former owners, principals, managers or key medical or legal service providers for at least nine facilities generating suspected false insurance claims. These facilities included medical assessment centres, injury treatment clinics, legal services offices and auto repair shops, and were extensively involved in the auto insurance claims associated to the alleged staged collisions currently being prosecuted.”

Two of the people charged this month are chiropractors, said York Regional Police Detective Ward Taylor. 

“We had 18 different chiropractors named in the investigation,” Taylor said in an interview. “All but these two are innocent bystanders. They would apply through Kijiji for a job and after a very short time working there they would get a bad feeling and leave. The rehab clinic would cut and paste their signature and continue to use their licence number for continued submissions after they had left.”

Taylor described the staged collisions.

“Normally, a person who was prepared to be a driver and provide their insurance, would get paid more money, like about $1,500 to bring forward passengers, and they would go by themselves to our community resource centre where they would report the collision, and then people would be added later on to the collision by phone,” he said. “They would go back to the rehab center once they had that general occurrence number, and they would sign a number of blank documents involved in medical assessment and medical treatment.”

Taylor added the people involved would also sign documents with a paralegal firm, stating that “all future communications with the insurance company would be done through the paralegal.”

Most had no further involvement after signing blank medical forms but some got free services, such as massages, Taylor added.

The first phase of Project Sideswipe was launched last March and the second phase kicked off in September.

“IBC worked on it for 18 months, brought it to us and we worked on it for the last eight,” Taylor said.