Insurance fraud is a multi-billion-dollar criminal enterprise that takes advantage of unsuspecting companies and unsuspecting individuals. We often see scammers target those in a vulnerable situation, just as we are experiencing today. Fraudsters capitalize on your fear of the unknown by extending an apparent offer to help, preying upon your anxiety.
We’ve already seen numerous examples of offenders stealing cargo loads of toilet paper, gloves, sanitizers, and anything else they can sell on the black market for a profit. Recently, a shipment of fake COVID-19 test kits was shipped from London; thankfully it was seized by Customs and Border Protection officials. Make no mistake about it; the threat to your health and well-being is real and is made worse by those exploiting the crisis for their profit.
Sadly, it’s not just happening here in the United States. Several days ago, Interpol arrested more than 100 people across 90 different countries that had manufactured fake surgical masks. We all need to be aware of those looking to exploit this pandemic for their gain.
The FBI just released several focus areas for us to be aware of, and we are following their guidance very seriously:
- Fraudsters can use links in emails to deliver malware to your computer that seeks to steal personal information or act as ransomware. As we are well aware in our industry, stolen identities are a regular vehicle for fraudsters to commit insurance crimes.
- Businesses and consumers should be wary of websites and apps claiming to track COVID-19 cases worldwide. Criminals are also using these fraudulent websites to spread malicious ransomware and demand payment.
- We should all be cautious of anyone selling products that claim to prevent, treat, diagnose, or cure COVID-19. This extends to awareness of counterfeit products such as sanitizing products and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including N95 respirator masks, goggles, full face shields, protective gowns, and gloves.
Once the stay-at-home / shelter-in-place is over, businesses will be up and running, which is excellent news. Unfortunately, we could see some submit fraudulent claims to make up for the revenue they lost during the lockdown. We expect a surge of claims coming from fraudulent clinics, auto repair facilities, rogue towing companies and other nefarious enterprises.
In an effort to pass along the latest virus information and what’s happening in our states from a fraud perspective, we have published the COVID-19 NICB Resource Center a comprehensive report that highlights national and state resources that are available to identify and fight the insurance fraud that is sure to come as a result of this crisis.
Once law enforcement can get back to business as usual, it is our goal to be ready to provide them with a series of COVID-19 insurance fraud cases that they can take to Federal and State prosecutors.
Catastrophes bring out the good in people. Unfortunately, it also brings out the bad actors that take advantage of the most vulnerable. With the help of our partners, our goal is to use our proven data analytics and investigative abilities to identify those bad actors and help bring them to justice.
We believe that coordinating with IASIU, the Coalition, and state officials helps us get the messaging out that we are in this fight together against insurance fraud and crime. NICB remains vigilant and engaged with our law enforcement partners around the nation.
We know in the coming weeks and months we will likely see more trends; we are here now, and will be here then, to help provide our support as we all navigate through this uncharted territory together.