Put on your seatbelts, folks. This guest blog by author Lindy S. Hudis really could change your life!
Lindy S. Hudis: Fraud, Crashes, and “Crashers”
Of the 10 million or so automobile accidents reported each year, one out of five of them may not even be accidents at all. In fact, they just may be a planned or “staged” accident – one of the fastest growing types of fraud in the country today. If you drive a car, you could be another victim.
What criminals find most alluring about this type of fraud, is that it is difficult to prove. This is why the “crash for cash” accidents continue to be a growing problem. How fast is this growing? The National Insurance Crime Bureau states that as recently as 2009, there were around 85,000 questionable insurance claims reported. That is up 43% from 2008. It may not be bank robbery, but this crime is here to stay.
There is also an array of professionals who are recruited to participate in this type of fraud. Attorneys, doctors and various “victims” – sometimes referred to as “cappers” and “hammers” – all collaborate to misrepresent facts to fraudulently obtain insurance money. The results of this are skyrocketing costs for insurance premiums, medical insurance, and various other expenses. This crime costs the insurance industry literally hundreds of millions each year.
Staged automobile accidents usually include these types of situations: fake auto accidents with phony injuries, falsification of reports about cars being hit, and “victims” being added to fake accident reports.
There are several types of scams involved in these particular crimes:
1) Swoop and Squat – A vehicle, the “hammer car”, will cut you off in traffic (the swoop) and suddenly slams on the brakes (the squat) which results in a rear-end collision. The suspect car has “victims”, or “stuffed passengers”, who claim to have painful neck and back injuries, even if the collision was at a low speed.
2) Sideswipe – A fraudulent “victim”/ driver could deliberately ram you at a busy intersection.
3) “Helpers” – You could be approached by a friendly stranger at the scene of an accident. They may seem like they are trying to “help” you, but in reality they will try to bully you into seeking treatment at a specific medical clinic, a specific attorney, or an specific body shop for the repairs on your car. This person could be a “capper” – an individual who recruits various people into his network.
What can you do to avoid being a victim? The answer is to be proactive, not reactive. First, never tailgate. It’s dangerous, and makes you an easy mark for any unscrupulous drivers. Second, glance into your rear view mirror every 8 seconds to observe the drivers behind you. Keep a safe distance between you and them. Third, look beyond the car in front of you while driving. Keep your eyes up and on the road at all times. Never drive distracted. If you follow basic common sense advice while driving, you can be rest assured that you, and your passengers, will remain safe, and you won’t be a victim to any dishonest drivers.
Lindy S. Hudis – author of Crashers
It may not be armed robbery, but the illegal business of fraudulent car accidents is a multi-million dollar racket, involving unscrupulous medical providers, personal injury attorneys, and the cooperating passengers involved in the accidents and who also receive a portion of the illegal proceeds. What makes good people turn to crime—any type of crime? Newly engaged, Nathan and Shari are blissfully happy—but their joy is tempered by the dark cloud of mounting debt. They know it’s just a matter of time until an avalanche of bills buries them—and their future along with it. A chance encounter with a stranger in whom Shari confides her troubles, proves fortuitous: he tells her of a get-rich-quick scheme that will put her and her fiancé on easy street. Seduced by the chance to move from hard times to good times in no time, she takes the carrot offered her, and finds herself acting as a “stuffed passenger”—the “victim” in a staged auto accident. The act goes according to plan and Shari gets her payday. She goes back for more—again and again, eventually becoming trapped in a dark and dangerous underworld, dragging her fiancé with her. Getting out and breaking free will take nothing short of a miracle. A modern day cautionary tale, Crashers is a fascinating study in the derailing of a young couple’s moral compass.
Lindy S. Hudis
Lindy S.Hudis is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she studied drama. She is a former actress, having appeared on such television shows as “Sunset Beach” and “Married with Children”. Her romantic murder mystery, Weekends, is currently available from Lachesis Publishing. She is also a filmmaker, her independent short film “The Lesson”, which she wrote, produced and directed, screened at the Seattle Underground Film Festival. She is co-owner of an independent production company called Impact Motion Pictures. She and her husband Steve, a Hollywood stuntman, have just completed the screenplay adaptation of Charmaine Hammond’s best selling book, “On Toby’s Terms.” She lives in California with her family.
Sarah here: Shew. We get some amazing talent in here. Thank you for joining us, Lindy! I was already wooed by the book premise, and now I see mention of “Married with Children,” which was a guilty pleasure of mine. *grins* But guys, Lindy had me hooked long before I got to her bio. What about this guest piece surprised you most? Weigh in and say hello!