Unfortunately, fraud has been part of the human element for as long as we are aware of our existence. Through the years, as people have developed, so has their ability to make deception into an art. Hence, the Art of Deception.
Staged car accidents fall into this category and can be difficult to detect. Many times, people are in shock at what has happened. Clear thinking is not usually one of the characteristics of car accident victims.
Many of the practices of staged car accidents have been documented however, it is an ever-developing field of fraud. It is through car accident forensics and forensic engineers that we have been able to put together a whole playbook of staged car wreck moves.
Known Types of Staged Car Accidents
Swoop and Squat
The Swoop and Squat has recently become a favorite type of staged car accident among crime groups. The operation usually begins on a non-busy street involving two criminal vehicles. The car in the left lane (squatter car) enters the right lane near the car in the right lane causing the victim to slow down.
The second criminal car then cuts into the right lane in front of the first squatter car. This causes the third car (the victim) to rear-end the second car. The first car often disappears altogether. This leaves the driver to take on responsibility for the damage of the car he hit. Often the repairs and medical injuries have been exaggerated beyond the damage.
Sometimes they use a car with an already damaged rear end, which adds to the damage amount. This can include body damage and damage to the support structures of the car. Often, the second car is junked, and the repairs are not completed. But the insurance companies pay the money, which goes into the pockets of the criminals.
Generally, the Panic Stop is done with the scam car having two passengers. The non-driver keeps an eye on the intended victims behind them. As soon as the victim takes their eyes off the road in front of them, the criminals hit the brakes.
Crime groups can also use someone on the street or in another car to create the distraction. This is what will lead to a wreck. These people then disappear. The car with the “witness” then tries to intimidate the driver into paying for the damage.
The Panic Stop is never done on a victim-car with more than one person in it. The idea here is to put pressure on the driver to make admissions of guilt, through the pressure of intimidation.
On busy streets that have long double turn lanes, it is easy for one car to side swipe a car in the next lane. Since the cars are often at the intersection of the two lanes, it is difficult to figure out who is at fault.
The criminal driver has all of this under control.
Part of this scam involves “witnesses” whom are part of the crime ring.
They use these sudden eager “witnesses” to convince the other driver it was he or she that zoomed into the wrong lane. Plus, when the cars hit, they don’t end up where they started so these criminal witnesses play a big part in determining blame.
The scam driver will wave the victim forward or give some other signal that looks like the victims are supposed to go ahead.
This set up is often used in wide open parking lots or driveways. Then, as the victim move forward, so does the other driver, causing a collision.
Who are the Victims of Staged Car Accidents?
The elderly can be a specifically selected target by these criminal organizations. They feel that elderly may be confused, and thus agree to any number of things at the accident site. They often travel alone and early in the day when fewer people are around. Many of the elderly are also perceived as having decreased driving skills. Though this is not always the case, the criminal organizations do not see it that way and will target the elderly.
Contrarily, younger drivers can also be victims of accident scams. They are perceived has often lacking the driving skills necessary to avoid seasoned car accident scammers. Again, this is not always the case however, the criminals feel that younger drivers could be easy prey. Crime rings see them as easy to intimidate and make the young driver admit to wrongdoing.
Signs of Insurance Fraud
Hesitance to give information
Often, the scammer is hesitant to provide the victim with a name and insurance information. If someone is not giving you the information you are requesting, write down the license plate of the other vehicle.
Number of witnesses
Other situations to look at are the number of witnesses and people in the other car. Does it make sense that there would be that many people watching that intersection? Do they seem to even know each other? Watch to see if a third or fourth car keeps circling the area around the car crash or automobile accident.
Do not agree to anything
Don’t agree to any payments in cash or by check at the scene of the accident. This is usually a giveaway that something is not right. Insurance companies don’t pay out cash until after an investigation by both sides. If threats are made, keep away from the other parties and call the police. If there is a place to take shelter, preferably with other people around, leave the car and go to it.
Watch out for accidents when in a new place. Crime groups have sets of criteria to be able to detect drivers that are not from the area. The scammers take these travelers and intimidate them into paying cash for an accident that was deliberately caused by the crime organization.
Things To Do if You Suspect Your in a Staged Car Accident
Never Admit Anything
The most important thing is never admit anything at the scene. This is especially important if they have witnesses. Ask to exchange information and check if anyone needs immediate care. Once that is done, let the driver know he will have to work with the insurance companies about payment. Try to get the names, phone numbers and/or emails of everyone who might have been involved in the accident or witnessed it.
Consult Legal Advice
Often, when the victim feel something is wrong, it is. The victim might need an attorney who specializes in accidents to provide help. A lawyer can make sure that the laws are followed. Often, the perpetrator of fraud will try to convince the victim of laws that don’t apply or even exist. Sometimes even the other insurance agent is part of the criminal activity. The victims legal advisor can check on the backgrounds of witnesses and drivers. They can help get copies of official medical records. They can also find authorities to help support the victims case.
A local accident attorney also keeps up with the crime in the area in which he or she practices law. They will know what types of criminals are currently operating in the area. They may also know what methods the criminals are choosing to use. This may make settling the case much more straightforward.
Staged Car Accidents in South Carolina
Staged car accidents and fake injuries are a large problem in the state of South Carolina. The state has one of the smallest investigating staffs in the United States. Criminals are aware of these limitations. South Carolina is 7th among all states in the volume of insurance scams each year. Yet, in total population the state is 25th in the nation. According to the state’s annual report, this costs each family over $1,000 per year in extra costs.
A variety of cases have been noted in the Annual Reports of the Insurance Fraud Division. Of all insurers, the Division finds that car insurance issues makes up about 80% of all their cases.
Who Handles Staged Car Accident Cases in Charleston, SC
Staged car accidents are exactly the types of cases The Hartman Law Firm, LLC handles in the Charleston area. Charleston is a major business and vacation area of South Carolina. Because of this, it attracts criminals looking for vulnerable victims.
Staged car accidents and insurance fraud cases are very difficult to prove and win. These criminal organizations have had years of practice and planning. It takes an extremely knowledgable, tenacious, hard working and experienced attorney to investigate, interrogate and challenge masterminded experienced criminals. Frank Hartman does all of it, with success.
If you were involved or think you may have been victim to a staged car accident, you need legal help right away. The Hartman Law Firm, LLC provides legal assistance for Charleston victims.
To get started, call Frank 24/7 at (843) 300-7600. Or, you can contact him online, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. The sooner you get Frank on your case, the sooner you’ll get your settlement.