By Brian Schultz
Every year people try to pull the wool over the eyes of Manitoba Public Insurance, but the company’s Special Investigations Unit digs thoroughly when red flags are raised, and gets to the bottom of suspicious claims.
This year, the unusual step of DNA testing was used to unravel the scam of a fraudster trying to bilk the public insurer.
Top Five MPI Frauds of 2010
Number 1 — ‘Mr. DNA’
A vehicle owner who denied crashing his car ended up paying thousands down the road when DNA evidence came back to bite him. ‘Mr. DNA,’ as MPI dubbed him, made a claim stating his car had been stolen. He was exposed when his own blood was found to be on the vehicle’s air bag, which was sent to a lab for testing. Witness statements also disproved his accident claim. Besides being fined $350, he had to pay $3,437 in investigative costs and the $12,900 claim to fix his car — which collided with a pole only blocks from his home — was withdrawn. The owner plead guilty to making a false statement.
Number 2 — ‘Guilty Conscience’
A Winnipeg man, with too much of a burden on his chest, admitted to deliberately burning a vehicle — four years after the act. The man said he was the former fiancé of the vehicle owner and needed to admit to his criminal actions. He ended up repaying $3,782 to MPI and received a fine of $864 after pleading guilty to fraud under $5,000.
Number 3 — ‘Letter of Apology’
A Winnipeg man who collided with a snow bank and then falsified a claim stating his vehicle was hit in a parking stall at his apartment complex was ordered to write a letter of apology to the president and CEO of MPI. The man’s front bumper was damaged, but he didn’t know who caused it. A witness came forward to state they had seen the vehicle hit a snow bank and a stop sign. The witness provided the man’s licence plate number to MPI and a part of the front spoiler which had been left at the crash scene. The man was ordered to pay MPI $240, plead guilty to fraud under $5,000, sentenced to 15 months probation and had to perform 120 community service hours.
Number 4 — ‘Not too Productive’
A Winkler man who was injured in a crash was prevented from working at his job on a production line and began receiving income replacement payments. As weeks went by, the man’s activity logs were extremely diligent, all while claiming he was confined to his home. The case was moved to the Special Investigations Unit for further analysis and discovered the man was able to fully function and was able to return to work. He was ordered to pay MPI $13,784 and received a $1,000 fine after pleading guilty to fraud over $5,000.
Number 5 — ‘Selective Memory’
A Winnipeg man who reported his pick-up truck had been stolen from in front of his house spent a day in jail when his tale came crashing down. The SIU took a closer look at the claim due to suspicious details and determined the man had willingly given the truck to a friend, who was driving it and a boat out to Whiteshell Provincial Park. When the truck broke down, the vehicle owner told the friend he was going to report it stolen. The truck was towed back to Winnipeg, where the owner was found guilty of public mischief and fraud under $5,000. Besides his one day in jail, he was ordered to pay a $577 fine and pay MPI $720 for the cost of the tow.
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Manitoba Public Insurance’s SIU has recovered undeserved benefits and denied fraudulent claims totalling over $50 million over the last five years.
Anyone knowing someone who is involved in auto insurance fraud is encouraged to call the MPI TIPS line at (204) 985-8477 or 1-877-985-8477. All calls are anonymous.