Insurance Scammers Foiled by Surveillance Spillover

Fake Accident Caught On Camera:

Surveillance video is good for catching thieves of all kinds – and that includes insurance fraudsters. 

A New York City surveillance camera caught eight people on tape faking a multi-vehicle wreck. The video shows three autos carefully circling the block – my guess is to make sure there would be no witnesses -- carefully backed into one another, making sure to do some decent damage.

After calling 911 and filling out an accident report, they then wracked up some $39,000 in medical treatment at Bronx medical clinics – all of which got billed to insurance companies, of course. In the police report, they claimed that the driver of the first car stopped short, causing the crash.

But one witness they didn’t count on was a surveillance camera: A nearby store had outdoor cameras that it caught all the action, and they’re all being charged with insurance fraud, grand larceny and falsifying business records.

This highlights an aspect of surveillance systems that often goes unnoticed: spillovers. A camera’s range can’t be limited to the property of its owner, and sometimes it catches behavior in an area that wouldn’t intentionally be monitored. So surveillance cameras on private businesses can confer a positive benefit to the surrounding community.

The police in Addison, Texas, are banking on such spillovers to help catch criminals in action. The city, home to a throng of restaurants, retail outlets and businesses, just partnered with a monitoring company that will give the city police access to its camera feeds whenever the company detects suspicious behavior. The thing is, businesses have to sign up for the service first. And while it does benefit the businesses, it should also translate into a safer community overall.

As for the insurance thieves? They’re behind bars now, awaiting trial.

Posted by Laura Williams on Mar 23, 2011

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