Low-cost solution to high-cost fraud
DES PLAINES, Ill., June 6, 2019 — On May 28, 2019, three individuals—part of a larger group of conspirators—were convicted of defrauding numerous New York City businesses and insurance companies of more than $31 million by orchestrating hundreds of phony “slip-and-fall” incidents.
Video – See slip and fall fraud caught on camera. Watch the video, and find out how NICB and Liberty Mutual Insurance worked together to prevent the fraudulent claim from being paid, and get the criminal prosecuted. https://youtu.be/u8WolTMahLQ
While this case is certainly among the most egregious and lucrative in recent memory, there are many more of these incidents occurring across the nation in small mom-and-pop businesses where their impact is much more immediate and devastating.
For example, most business owners are aware of the need for liability insurance and most have coverage to protect them from legitimate incidents that occur on their property. But often they have very high deductibles and a single incident can erode a small business’s profit for a month or more. In some cases, it may make the difference between remaining in business or closing their doors. Fraudsters know this and they will often prey on small business operators within their communities and bogus slip-and-fall incidents are a quick source of cash with little risk of apprehension.
A typical scenario goes like this: a small shopkeeper is alone at work when a customer arrives and roams the aisles looking at merchandise. After a time, the customer starts calling out for help. The shopkeeper responds to find the person on the floor, moaning and groaning from an injury he claims was caused when he slipped on something on the floor. Now the stage is set for one of two possibilities. The victim might then and there demand an amount to “forget the whole thing” and disappear, or ask if the shopkeeper is insured suggesting that the incident isn’t going away anytime soon.
If it’s the latter, then many times this is just a ruse to further unsettle the shopkeeper and make them more eager to find a solution. In a week or so, the victim returns and tells the shopkeeper that he received some medical treatment for his injury and that he is feeling much better. He sees no point in taking the shopkeeper to court and is willing to settle if he could just be reimbursed for his out-of-pocket medical expenses. He might even produce an invoice or bill from a medical provider as proof and an easy item to fabricate. The shopkeeper jumps on the opportunity to put it all behind him and agrees to pay the amount.
However, there is a solution to this crime and it is available to anyone—installing a video surveillance system in your place of business.
While mom-and-pop shops might not have the deep pockets of national big-box retailers that can cover every square foot of their properties with the latest video surveillance technology, they can still use this technology on a smaller, more modest budget. And thwarting just one bogus slip-and-fall can more than recover the cost of video surveillance.
As the accompanying video demonstrates, if a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth thousands of dollars—in preventing extorted or fraudulent slip-and-fall claims.
Here are a few tips on how business owners can protect against fraud:
- Be aware of possible hazards on your property and be proactive about corrective actions.
- Install cameras and review footage regularly.
- Video Video Video—the better the video the better ability businesses have to defend themselves from potential fraud.
- Post signage advising that video is in use—making people aware they are on video can be a great deterrent.
- Train employees how to react and what to do if someone falls.
- Secure interviews of witnesses right away—memories are best when statements are taken as close to the incident as possible
- Involve your insurance company. The knowledge of your insurance company will go a long way. They may know about possible organized groups in the area.
- Don’t settle a fraudulent claim with a payoff to make it go away. They’ll move on to another victim hoping for another quick payoff.
Remember, insurance fraud means money out of everyone’s pocket…except the criminal. Businesses may be forced to raise prices, and fraudulent insurance payouts can mean higher premiums.