Top Four Staged Car Crash Scams

Does something about that car crash seem not quite legit? Know the top four staged car crash scams.

Getting in to an accident that wonks up your prized ride is bad enough. But finding out that the car crash was staged no doubt will leave you fuming. And the only thing that might make you even more incensed is realizing that bit of info too late – after the scammers have walked away with a fat check courtesy of your insurer.

Orchestrated by surprisingly sophisticated criminal networks, staged car crashes are on the rise nationwide, bilking auto insurance companies out of billions of dollars and jacking up insurance premium rates for all of us. Prosecutors recently busted a New York crime ring that nearly succeeded in scoring $400 million in bogus insurance claims. California’s Insurance Commissioner is urging drivers to be on the lookout after the state’s Department of Insurance received more than 7,700 suspicious insurance claims in Los Angeles County alone last year. And Minnesota officials report that the rate of auto insurance fraud perpetrated by organized crime factions rose 230 percent in the past four years.

So how do you avoid falling victim to these crooks? E3 Spark Plugs recommends learning to recognize the four most prevalent staged crash scams as reported by the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud…

  1. The Swoop and Squat: By far the most common tactic of staged crash scammers, the Swoop and Squat involves a vehicle suddenly swooping in front of yours and slamming to a stop, causing a rear-end collision. Of course, this one typically is followed by a carful of suspect whining about back and neck pain.
  2. The Drive Down: You’re attempting to merge into traffic or back out of a parking spot when a seemingly nice-guy driver slows down and waves you on. You accept, probably give a thank-you nod and move up or out – only to have the jerk slam his car into yours. When the cops arrive, he denies ever waving and blames the whole thing on you.
  3. The Sideswipe: You make a left-hand turn in a dual left turn lane at a busy intersection, then drift slightly or attempt to cross into the lane to the right. That’s when a sharp-eyed crook deliberately rams his car into the side of yours.
  4. The Shady Helper: After an accident, a seemingly well-meaning stranger shows up and is all too anxious to tell you about a great doctor, body shop and/or lawyer he just happens to know. Or, he jumps into the conversation with police officers insisting that he saw the whole thing and that it was all your fault.

Were you the victim of a staged crash? Post your story on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook Fan Page. And, check our next blog to find out what to do if you suspect you’re being scammed the next time you’re in a fender bender.