Uber: A Victim of Serial Hit and Runs? Or Insurance Scam?
According to Bristow Marchant of www.thestate.com, Columbia, SC has been the epicenter of a series of hit-and-run motor vehicle crashes with Uber vehicles. This has sparked a lawsuit between at least fifty fraudsters and the rideshare company’s insurer, James River Insurance.
The lawsuit alleges that between June 2017 and January 2019, 21 separate motor vehicle accidents were reported to James River Insurance, involving 52 people who staged the Uber hit-and-runs. The insurer claims that these accidents either didn’t happen or were staged to collect benefits in an insurance scam, totaling over $75,000. There are a lot of moving parts here, no pun intended. Here are the details of the lawsuit as shared on The State:
Multiple defendants named in the lawsuit initiated Uber rides that were then rear-ended by another vehicle. Passengers then went to the hospital and filed claims with James River Insurance.
Marchant and the lawsuit state, “Of the 52 people identified in the lawsuit as being part of the scheme, ‘many…. are social acquaintances, neighbors, and/or have other personal relationships with their co-defendants.’” Side note: This plays a HUGE ROLE in why we include personal relationships and scour the social media accounts of family members/friends/acquaintances in our social media investigations!
The lawsuit also states, “Such personal relationships decrease the likelihood that the defendants were all actually involved in real hit-and-run accidents while using an Uber ride share and increase the likelihood that these alleged ‘accidents’ are actually staged motor vehicle accidents for the purpose of committing insurance fraud.”
“All but seven of the individuals named in the suit are identified as Richland County residents. In at least two instances, the Uber drivers were in on the scam, James River alleges in its suit,” according to Marchant.
The lawsuit refers to specific incidences to include the following:
“In one instance, an Uber ride was rear-ended on Augusta Highway by a car that then drove away. The Uber driver followed the car and even collided with it a second time. An unidentified man eventually abandoned the car and fled in another vehicle, which was later determined to be owned by the passenger in the Uber that was hit.”
In another instance, “the insurance company disputes an Uber driver’s account of a hit-and-run because the $3,000 in damage to the car is ‘consistent with an impact with a fixed object and inconsistent with an impact with a moving vehicle.’”
Additionally, “the lawsuit alleges an Uber driver was in cahoots with two Uber riders in her car, plus the driver and two passengers in another car that allegedly ran a stop sign at Duke Avenue and Mountain Drive and collided with the Uber, causing almost $9,000 in damage to the Uber driver’s car.”
Furthermore, “One woman involved in the case was pregnant at the time of a staged collision on an Interstate 26 on-ramp from Harbison Boulevard, in which the Uber was rear-ended twice by a car that then fled the scene.”
No criminal charges have been filed at this time.