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One of the biggest insurance fraud investigations in the state, according to the Georgia Insurance Commissioner’s Office, is now underway. Twenty six suspects were recently accused of having roles in an auto insurance fraud ring centered in Columbus; twelve of those people have been arrested.
According to WRBL News, the suspects are accused of intentionally staging car crashes and filing false claims with 12 insurance companies: GEICO, State Farm, Nationwide, Safe Auto, Allstate, Progressive, USAA, Georgia Farm Bureau, Safeway, Everest National, Direct Auto, and General Insurance.
The suspects in this ring range in age from 23-56, and Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens believes 24-year-old Devonta Waddy is the ringleader of the operation.
Hudgens said, “They will buy a liability policy on an automobile. Generally they’ll back out of the driveway and run into another car, and say ‘Oh! This is my fault.” He also added that those involved would call insurance companies to report the damage, and not the police.
“They don’t feel like they’re going to get caught,” Director of Fraud Investigations Sherry Mowell said. “They feel like they’re smarter than the insurance companies, and the insurance companies have the ability to flag certain circumstances.”
Mowell says insurance companies noticed a link among dozens of suspicious claims filed between 2013-2016. The claims asked for total payouts of over $500,000, though insurance only payed about $156,000.
“People say, ‘Well the insurance companies have a lot of money,'” Hudgens said. “The only place insurance companies get money is from us individually. And every time they have to pay out a fraudulent claim, it costs everyone.”
Hudgens says false claims were estimated to cost a policy holder $400-$700 last year.
He also ensures a stiff punishment for those caught in the act of insurance fraud. “Insurance fraud doesn’t pay,” he said. “It costs everyone. But if you’re perpetuating it, be prepared to spend some jail time. You may get away with it for a time. But we’re coming after you and if we catch you, we’re going to ask the sheriff to put you in jail. We’re going to ask the DA to prosecute you.”
The Muscogee County District Attorney will prosecute these cases.
Georgia, Staged AccidentsFraudulent Claims
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