According to the California Department of Insurance, about six out of 10 insurance fraud cases referred to the agency deal with sketchy car insurance claims. High-end vehicles and cars owned by county and stage agencies are often targeted by organized crime groups who bank on payouts from victims likely to be insured.
In one scheme—the "swoop-and-squat"—two vehicles box in another vehicle and force a collision.
The department offers the following tips to avoid getting caught in the scam:
- After a collision look for these following red-flags of fraudulent activity:
- The other car is packed with passengers.
- The other driver has a relatively new insurance policy.
- The other car is in poor condition or has a "salvage" title.
- Traffic was flowing smoothly and the other driver stopped suddenly.
- The other driver and/or the passengers make extra effort to avoid conversation about the other vehicles in the area.
- There is a witness that substantiates everything the other driver says.
- The other driver and his passengers all claim injury despite relatively minor collision damage to the vehicles.