Some states are adopting insurance fraud “Most Wanted” lists in hopes of locating suspects that skipped court and are now considered fugitives, in hopes that the public will see their pictures, recognize them, and contact authorities to make arrests. But is it working?
According to an article by Jenni Bergal on Huffington Post, these lists have been successful. One example includes a story from Tacoma, Washington, citing that Leandre Garner took out an insurance policy and just ONE DAY after, filed a claim for over $4,000 in repairs needed to his Chrysler 300 that had been “damaged in a parking lot.” Obviously, the claim boasted screaming red flags, insurance investigators determined that his car was already damaged, and Garner was charged with filing a false insurance claim in 2013. Great!
But then, Garner failed to appear in court and a warrant for his arrest was issued. To get the word out further, Garner’s name and photograph were placed on the Washington state online “Most Wanted” list. The Washington state insurance departments efforts proved fruitful three years later when a tip came in from someone who had viewed Garner’s photo on their online list, and reported Garner’s whereabouts to authorities in California, where he had fled. He was arrested, extradited back to Washington, and plead guilty in superior court.
Crimes like this, along with health-care related scams, false or inflated property and casualty, auto, homeowners, and workers compensation claims, all contribute to billions of dollars in fraudulent losses. However, Mark Couey, director of the Washington State Insurance Department’s Criminal Investigations Unit, noted that, “In Washington state, 18 of the 26 people who have appeared on the insurance department’s Most Wanted list since it was started in 2012 either have turned themselves in or been nabbed.” And sharing on social media has also been a great tool!
Furthermore, the criteria for each Most Wanted list varies by state. However, the three states cited in this article to include Washington, Utah, and Florida, have all seen positive feedback from their lists!