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Fraud news: It’s the recession, stupid

With layoffs, foreclosures and other Misery Metrics piling up as the recession grinds on, reporters keep asking if insurance fraud is spiking.

Are stressed-out consumers trying to bilk their insurers for convenient bailouts? So far, this has been the big insurance-fraud story for 2009.

Reporters’ antennae are on high alert. They’re scouring for fresh stories on how the recession is affecting consumers—and insurance fraud now is front and center.

Sadly but true, people’s desperate fraud schemes give fraud "fighters a prime stage for building public outrage and sending forceful deterrent messages.

Well-timed news efforts can help thwart bogus claims now, and reduce public tolerance of fraud well after the recession has ended.

The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud is moving swiftly. Our public-interest news campaign earned nearly 700 stories about fraud and the recession in the "first quarter of 2009 alone.

So-called vehicle giveups remain the fastest-spreading fraud trend—and hottest news story. Stressed-out drivers are torching unwanted vehicles, sinking them in waterways or giving them to chop shops—all for illicit insurance bailouts.

Suspected giveups, for instance, have soared 30 percent or more in New York, Pennsylvania and Miami. Southern California is another hot spot. Same with Dallas, Las Vegas, Newark, Louisville and other locales.

This winter we’ve worked on national giveup stories with the Wall Street Journal…New York Times…Associated Press (national)…CBS Evening News…Good Morning America…Fox News… ABC News.com…BusinessWeek.com…Hartford Courant…New York Post…MSN and other news outlets. Most stories have appeared, and some are in progress.

Among the insights by coalition staff quoted in recent news stories:

Wall Street Journal: “The economy is stretching people to the breaking point, and some of them are willing to risk criminal convictions. They look at (giveups) as their own personal stimulus package.”

Good Morning America: “Most people who dump their cars are decent, honest people who are literally driven to do this by the downturned economy.”

ABC News.com: “These are normally honest people who wouldn’t steal a candy bar from a grocery store…They’re resorting to a stupid and ill-thought-out crime as a last resort…People are just destroying their lives in an attempt to illegally bail themselves out.”

Published by the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, www.InsuranceFraud.org



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