TALLAHASSEE, Fla., July 31 -- The Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles issued the following news release:
By knowing more about staged crash fraud schemes, Florida's motoring public can avoid such schemes by criminals who prey on innocent motorists. The Department of Financial Services' Division of Insurance Fraud, the National Insurance Crime Bureau and the Florida Highway Patrol have collaborated to help stop staged crashes in Florida.
The great majority of crashes are unintentional, but there are some committed purposely. Criminals see staged crashes as an easy way to obtain money from insurance companies. They use paid witnesses, unethical attorneys and corrupt medical providers to promote and gain from the fraud.
Basic schemes are (click the hyperlinks below to view visual demonstrations):
Swoop and Squat: The driver of Vehicle 1, who is in on the scheme, purposely drives a short distance in front of an innocent driver, when the driver of Vehicle 2, also in on the scheme, suddenly swoops in front of Vehicle 1. The driver of Vehicle 1 hits his brakes and causes a rear-end collision with the victim behind him.
Drive Down: When a driver is trying to merge into traffic, a scheming driver slows down and waves the victim forward. Once the victim proceeds, the schemer crashes into the victim's vehicle and denies to law enforcement that he waved the other driver through and blames the crash on the other driver.
Panic Stop: The scheming driver of a vehicle drives in front of a victim. An observer in the schemer's vehicle waits for the victim to take his eyes off the road, for example to text or talk to a passenger, then signals the driver to slam the brakes to create a rear-end collision.
Tips to help drivers avoid a staged crash:
Call law enforcement to a crash scene.
Use a camera to document any crash damage and the number of passengers in other vehicles.
Avoid people who suddenly appear at a crash scene and try to direct you to doctors and attorneys.
Be wary of physicians who insist you file a personal injury claim after a crash, especially if you are not hurt.
Avoid tow trucks that arrive on the scene without anyone having called for service.
If you are a witness of a crash, provide details to law enforcement officers.
Posted on FHP's website is more information on staged crashes and how they affect motorists in Florida, the NICB and Florida Division of Insurance Fraud. The website address is http://www.flhsmv.gov/fhp/misc/StagedCrashes.htm.
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