A total of 24 individuals have been reported to be charged with interstate auto insurance fraud. According to reports, 17 of them are New York citizens, 6 are from New Jersey, and 1 is a driver from Pennsylvania. Charges have been filed against the unnamed individuals for committing car insurance fraud and other charges of insurance felony for falsely identifying themselves as Pennsylvania drivers in an attempt to receive lower premium rates on auto policies.
Each of the 24 defendants are facing charges including one count of auto insurance fraud and one count of false application for registration or certificate of title. Both offenses are punishable by both years of imprisonment and a fine ranging from $10,000 to $15,000. Reports say that the defendants may be facing more charges that are yet to be finalized. Preliminary hearings for the defendants are set anytime from January to February next year. Members of the prosecution team for the scheduled hearings include Attorney General Insurance Fraud Section Deputy Attorney General Jennifer B. Peterson and Senior Deputy Attorney General Mark A. Bellavia.
Insurance expert and Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett identified the fraud committed as a form of rate evasion. Corbett described the practice as a scheme of out-of-state car owners who provide fraudulent documents to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation in order to get information regarding PA vehicle registration records or drivers’ licenses. After getting what they want, out-of-state fraudsters will then use the information to get cheap rates for Pennsylvania car insurance policies to be used for their automobiles. When asked regarding the damages done by scams like this to Pennsylvania’s insurance industry, Corbett said that the genuine residents pay an additional amount, estimated to be ranging from $12 to $15 million each year due to premium rate hikes.
Atty. Gen. Corbett said in an interview that drivers from New Jersey or New York can save approximately $1,000 to $4,000 worth of car insurance costs per year by falsely claiming to be residents of Pennsylvania and insuring their cars in the state. Reports indicate that cases similar to this have been filed before as the auto policy premiums and coverage requirements in Pennsylvania are a lot more affordable as compared to other states. Corbett adds that the real financial victims in these cases are the honest and hardworking citizens of Pennsylvania who carry the burden of paying high premiums when their insurance providers find out that they have been paying for claims filed by fraudulent motorists who are not really residents of the state.