For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
(208) 334-4112

Date: July 5, 2007

Insurance and Arson Crime Task Force Nets 10 Convictions in First Year

(Boise) – Idaho’s Insurance and Arson Crime Task Force, a cooperative effort of the Attorney General’s Office and the Idaho Department of Insurance, obtained 10 felony convictions in its first full year of operation, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and Department of Insurance Director Bill Deal said.

“The legislature’s support in funding a full-time Deputy Attorney General dedicated to prosecution of insurance fraud is already paying dividends,” Attorney General Wasden said. “In addition to the 10 cases in which we obtained convictions, we have 6 other cases pending in which we have filed charges or soon will. We’re continuing to work closely with the Department of Insurance and the county prosecuting attorneys to see that insurance fraud is thoroughly investigated and diligently prosecuted.”

“Insurance crime hurts everyone, not just insurance companies. These costs are passed to consumers in the form of higher premiums,” Director Bill Deal said. “The National Insurance Crime Bureau and the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud estimate that 10 to 25 cents out of each dollar consumers spend on insurance premiums goes to insurance fraud. Right now the department’s Investigations Section has more than 100 investigative files open. Due to our cooperative effort with the Attorney General, there is a high probability that people who commit insurance fraud will be caught and prosecuted.”

Among the cases prosecuted in the last 12 months are the following:

  • A Bonneville County case in which a married couple set fire to their car in order to collect money from an auto insurance policy. Each received a 90-day jail sentence.
  • A Bannock County case in which the defendant claimed his motorcycle had been stolen when, in fact, he had hidden the motorcycle with a friend. After receiving an insurance payment for the allegedly stolen motorcycle, he then sold the motorcycle to a co-worker. The defendant received a 90-day jail sentence.
  • An Ada County case in which a woman falsely represented her boyfriend to be her estranged husband in order to have her health care insurer pay for the boyfriend’s gall bladder surgery. The woman is now serving a 7-year prison sentence with one year fixed. The boyfriend is serving 180 days at the North Idaho Correctional Institution.
  • A Bonneville County case in which a couple, whose auto insurance had lapsed, was involved in a crash, then contacted their insurance agent to reinstate their insurance policy and later claimed the crash occurred after their policy was reinstated. Both served a jail sentence.

Insurance companies are required by law to report suspected fraudulent claims to the Idaho Department of Insurance.

Insurance fraud is a felony and can be punished by up to 15 years in prison, a $15,000 fine, restitution to the insurance company for the claim and expenses plus restitution to the Idaho Department of Insurance for investigative costs.

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