More and more fraudsters are being caught out by information publically accessible on social media sites. Authorities like the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) are even giving agents special training to catch insurance claim fraud in cyberspace.
In 2015, ICBC opened 2,350 online investigations and enhanced its Special Investigations Unit with advanced detection software. Around 550 fraudsters have been convicted from 2010 to 2015.
In one such instance, a woman who worked as a hairdresser said that injuries sustained during a crash hindered her from working. But her Facebook and Twitter accounts proved otherwise, as they showed her hiking, running, and even playing roller derby when she was supposed to be recovering. It turned out many of her injuries were from roller derby, not from the crash. She was forced to settle for only half of her original claim.
Another case featured a man who reported that his truck was set on fire by vandals, but ICBC’s investigators found out that he was selling the same truck on Craigslist. When confronted with the evidence, he admitted that he did it because he lacked money to pay for his truck’s repairs. Coupled with suspicious physical evidence regarding the fire, the investigation ended up with his claim being denied.
According to ICBC, fraud isn’t just staging a crash or falsely claiming a vehicle was stolen. Exaggeration also constitutes fraud. Some examples would be: embellishing injuries, reporting injuries and vehicle damage from unrelated incidents, and participating in a jump-in scheme or misrepresenting the number of passengers involved in an incident.
ICBC said that while a huge majority of their customers are honest, around C$600m per year is lost to fraud. This raises premium prices for all drivers by around C$100 annually, so they encourage the public to help report any suspicious activity linked to automotive insurance and claims.