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Lewis: Insurance fraud could be next lottery scam

Published:Thursday | July 11, 2013 | 12:00 AM

Nearly $1 billion has been swindled from insurance agencies so far this year in the burgeoning motor-vehicle accident scam.

The revelation came from Senior Superintendent of Police Radcliffe Lewis, who was speaking with The Gleaner on Tuesday.

The agencies say losses from PPV claims are above tolerable levels. However, Lewis revealed that taxis - both 'robot' and legal - were major players in the scam.

"And some vehicles, too, that are involved in crashes that are suspicious, they (insurance companies) also refuse them insurance," he said. "And I am in total agreement with that. This is something that will wreck any business place."

The Gleaner has been tracking the scam, which Lewis said has been going on for over a year. The lawman gave details about how the PPVs are involved.

"They arrange for a taxi or a robot to run into the back of a car and sometimes they run it into walls," he said. "When they do that now, they get people in a jiffy. They will transport people to the scene and they will lie down and report it to the police, and then give the impression they were involved in the accident."

Lewis said the most common 'ailments' are whiplash, but muscle spasms and back pain are also regular complaints because no X-ray or any other equipment can pick up such injuries.

"Then they claim a lot of money from insurance companies," he said. "If and when the claim is settled, the attorney's fees are inflated much, much more than what the claimant gets."

INVESTIGATION LAUNCHED

He said the Organised Crime Investigation Division officially launched its investigation into the scam on Monday.

Lewis, who has been critical of insurance companies for not providing information to tackle the scam, said they were doing more now.

"It (the scam) has taken root to the extent that it has the potential to become the next lottery scam and it will become violent," he said. "And we have seen signs of that already."

He said that recently a fake victim, after receiving a $1 million for a claim, was attacked and the money stolen. Lewis noted that 13 prominent doctors and six prominent attorneys are suspected to be involved in the scam.

daviot.kelly@gleanerjm.com