DAILY NEWS Jan 2, 2013 11:25 AM - 1 comment

Auto fraud attempt in Manitoba foiled by police officer's eye witness account

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2013-01-02

A Winnipeg fraudster topped Manitoba Public Insurance’s (MPI) fraud list for 2012, receiving a $1,500 fine and being ordered to pay $60,000 in vehicle damages to the public insurer after pleading guilty to making a false statement under the provincial Highway Traffic Act.

Fraud

Describing the fraud as an expensive hangover, MPI reported in late December that festivities with friends began at a bar, but ended up at the vehicle owner’s residence. While driving a friend home at about 6 am, the vehicle owner sideswiped another vehicle, causing severe damage.

He fled the scene, but the collision was observed by an off-duty police officer heading to work, notes a statement from MPI. A check of the vehicle registration revealed the vehicle owner lived only a block away from the crash scene. When police arrived, the owner was drinking beer and vehemently denied any involvement in the crash.

The off-duty officer later identified the vehicle owner in a photo line-up, and one of his friends confirmed he had been driving at the time of the crash.

Rounding out MPI’s Top 5 frauds were as follows:

*           Fines of more than $1,000 were ordered for two vehicle owners and their claims which totalled more than $16,000 were denied after they pleaded guilty to public mischief. A security camera on a building wall caught the men walking up to their vehicles, smashing the windows and setting them on fire. One of the vehicle owners admitted he wanted to get rid of his vehicle because of repair issues; the other, his co-worker and friend, wanted his vehicle destroyed.

*           A Winnipeg man pleaded guilty to fraud over $5,000, receiving a $1,500 fine, and having his $8,200 claim denied when it was discovered he and an acquaintance arranged a staged collision to write off his car, which was in poor mechanical condition. It was falsely reported that the damage occurred in a hit-and-run involving a large truck that ran a stop sign. However, the vehicle’s data crash recorder confirmed the vehicle was parked at the time of the incident.

*           A Winnipeg woman was handed a $1,100 fine for making a false statement to MPI, which also denied her $20,000 claim for her badly damaged vehicle, after she reported being alone in her car at the time of the collision in question. Again, the vehicle's data crash recorder disagreed, confirming that the passenger seat was occupied. Witnesses also reported to police that a male, who appeared to be impaired, was driving at the time.

*           A Winnipeg man was fined $1,000 and ordered to pay restitution of $8,466 to MPI after pleading guilty to fraud over $5,000. The injured man, who was in receipt of income replacement benefits because he claimed he was unable to return to work, was subsequently found to be working as a professional driver. Activity logs showed 131 shifts worked of varying lengths.

A data crash recorder and surveillance camera proved to be invaluable tools in successfully identifying a pair of individuals who attempted to defraud Manitoba Public Insurance, which today released its annual list of Top Five Frauds.

Efforts by MPI’s Special Investigation Unit (SIU), which handles all suspicious claims, resulted in fraud savings last year of more than $9 million for Manitoba auto insurance rate payers, notes the MPI statement. The SIU investigate approximately 3,000 claims every year.



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