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  • Dean Smith

Swoop & Squat: A Dangerous and Sometimes Deadly Insurance Scam

According to Christopher Tidball of PropertyCasualty360, the phrase “swoop & squat” went viral with national recognition on June 17, 1992 after a deadly freeway accident in the San Fernando Valley (right on the outskirts of Los Angeles, California). Of course, deadly freeway accidents are not unheard of, as at high speeds, even the slightest bump or lane change at the wrong time can prove fatal. But this accident was different, because it was no accident. A black Firebird with multiple passengers slammed on its brakes in front of a semi. The semi rear-ended the Firebird and jack-knifed, while the truck’s entire load of cars flooded the 5 freeway. Tidball writes the tragic ending to this story (but the beginning to a complex fraud investigation), as Firebird passenger, “Rubidia Lopez had been partially ejected and was seriously hurt, requiring the Jaws of Life to save her. One of the other passengers, Jose Perez, was not quite so lucky, losing his life in this vain attempt to cash in on the truck’s lucrative insurance policy.” The passengers in the Firebird were involved in a “Swoop and Squat,” a complex scheme in which the passengers in the “squat” car are paid by a “capper” to slam on their brakes and get rear-ended by vehicles with large insurance policies such as luxury cars or commercial vehicles. The “swoop” car’s role is to pull in front of the squat car and hit the brakes in an effort to make the squat car’s story believable. Furthermore, some schemes include other vehicles whose role is to get in position next to the target to ensure there is no room to switch lanes. Lawyers and doctors are usually at the head of the schemes. They hire “Cappers” to recruit passengers, who are often in need of money and coached with scripts to speak with law enforcement and claims adjusters, for the swoop and squats. According to Tidball, “The capper then sells the rights to the claim to the lawyer at the top of the hierarchy. The lawyer refers the claimants, or people who were in the squat vehicle, to a medical provider. The medical provider will document, fraudulently, that a number of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures were performed on the claimants. In many instances the claimant never goes to the medical facility or meets the doctor.” The officer assigned to investigating the “accident” that occurred on June 17, 1992 fully believed that it was staged and that attorney, Gary Miller, was responsible for coordinating it. Tidball reports, “During the course of his probe into Miller, the investigating officer enlisted the help of an insurance investigator who wore a wire and captured damning information directly from the attorney. Miller was arrested and charged with conspiracy and second-degree murder, along with several other people involved in this particular staged accident ring.” The investigation discovered that Miller’s Swoop & Squat endeavors were lucrative. “Miller typically cleared up to $20,000 dollars for each crash, netting over $1.6 million in the year prior to his arrest,” said Tidball. The case ended when Miller pleaded no contest to involuntary manslaughter (after a deadlocked jury on the second-degree murder charge) and was also convicted of insurance fraud, conspiracy, among other felony charges. Miller received a concurrent prison term of 6 years for all charges. Here’s how to fight Swoop & Squat Schemes: The investigation needs to be highly detailed and well-documented

Inspect the damaged vehicles

Look for patterns of known associates

Demand to speak to the claimants. Tidball notes, “Attorneys will often fight this request, but the reality is that everyone can be deposed should the matter be litigated. The claimants will be forced to sit down and recount the tale of what happened, and truth be told, many of these claimants will disappear.”

Have investigators conduct statements IN PERSON. If not, claimants may use a script

If there is no script, Tidball notes that investigators who ask “basic questions can yield a similar result. What did the doctor look like? Describe the medical facility? How did you get from your home to the doctor’s office?”

Clinic inspections

Have investigators canvass the claimants’ neighborhoods/speak to ex-spouses

Order criminal checks to find prior illegal activity and destroy credibility

Suspicious? Get Answers TODAY with ICU Investigations. Source

Posted in News | Tagged insurance, scheme, swoop & squat, vehicle

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