WINNIPEG — Manitoba Public Insurance has released its annual list of the top five frauds of the year.
“MPI releases its annual top five fraud list to raise awareness about the costs related to auto insurance fraud,” said Satvir Jatana, MPI’s chief customer officer.
“The list is compiled based on the unique circumstances of each fraud, financial savings to MPI ratepayers, and the investigative techniques used in confirming fraudulent activity.”
Last year, MPI’s special investigation unit (SIU) closed about 1,000 investigations, resulting in a claims savings of about $14 million.
TOP 5 MPI FRAUDS OF 2021
- Phony Kidnapping — A Winnipeg woman told MPI her vehicle had been stolen from her garage and that hieves demanded payment for its return via Facebook Messenger. After her badly damaged vehicle was recovered by police, the woman admitted she did not call police, but agreed to meet the thieves, who she stated then kidnapped her, speeding around the city for hours and eventually crashing the vehicle. An investigation was launched after many gaps in her story, which determined the vehicle wouldn’t run without a key inserted into the ignition. In her statement, the owner confirmed that she had all keys in her possession. When presented with the findings of the investigation, the vehicle owner admitted she had lied about the kidnapping. Truth was, she was in the vehicle driving around with a group of “friends” drinking and speeding around the city. They eventually crashed into another vehicle and immediately ran from the scene. The theft claim was denied, saving MPI an estimated $68,000.
- The Fast & Furious — A 20-year-old man, who had been racing another vehicle, claimed he drove off the road, crashing into half a dozen parked vehicles while falling asleep behind the vehicle. The driver claimed he was going 55 km/h in a 50 km/h zone at the time. MPI downloaded the vehicle’s data crash recorded, which found the vehicle was going 140 km/h at the time of impact. The brake pedal wasn’t applied and seatbelts were unbuckled. Surveillance footage was also taken from various locations on the travelled road, showing the vehicle was racing with another vehicle seconds before the crash. An investigator found that the crash occurred on a 1.6 km stretch of straight road and the driver failed to negotiate an upcoming curve in the roadway, crashing into several parked vehicles. The collision claim was denied and MPI has begun a recovery of costs from the driver. Cost savings to MPI are estimated to be $150,000.
- Truckin’ Along — A professional Winnipeg truck driver was injured in a single-vehicle incident while hauling a load. Based on the extent of his injuries, he was entitled to receive income replacement benefits and personal care assistance payments. He told his MPI case manager that his injuries prevented him from lifting his arms above his shoulders, being unable to lift heavy objects, physically unable to drive more than 15 minutes, could no longer take out the garbage and recycling bins, or work his regular job. MPI received a tip that the man was still working while collecting benefits and began an investigation, consisting of surveillance, which showed the man was working, able to drive many hours a day and was seen carrying a number of objects, including heavy wooden crates. MPI contacted the man and informed him his benefits were being terminated. He was also charged with fraud over $5,000 and making a false statement. The estimated savings to MPI was more than $700,000.
- Centre Stage — Two people opened separate collision claims, with one driver admitting he was responsible for the T-bone collision at an intersection. The SIU investigator attended to the collision scene and noticed a surveillance camera pointed in the direction of the collision intersection. The surveillance clearly showed both vehicles slowly travelling through the intersection several times prior to the collision. The surveillance also showed both vehicles were deliberately positioned in a T-bone configuration, with one car accelerating into the other vehicle which was slowly entering the intersection. When confronted, one owner admitted he and his friend planned this “staged” collision to write-off their vehicles. The savings to MPI were $15,297.46.
- Canine Caper — A Winnipeg woman opened a collision claim, stating a dog ran onto the roadway, causing her to swerve and collide with a pole and large flower pot located in the yard of a private residence. There was significant damage to both the woman’s 2020 Ford Explorer and items in the yard. The woman also provided the name of a third-party witness, who told the MPI adjuster that the vehicle did swerve to avoid a dog and the woman was driving. Based on statements received, MPI determined the driver was not at fault, resulting in no financial compensation from MPI to the owners of the property. When told of this decision, the owners of the property then provided MPI with video footage of the collision which clearly showed there was no dog running across the road, and the driver of the vehicle was a male. When confronted, the woman admitted to lying to protect her boyfriend who was driving and didn’t hold a valid driver’s licence. The witness later admitted they had come across the crash after the fact and did not see a dog. The collision claim was denied and MPI is seeking to recover costs from the unlicensed driver. The claims savings to MPI were $29,840.08.
Anyone with information about auto insurance fraud is encouraged to call the Manitoba Public Insurance TIPS line at (204) 985-8477 or toll-free 1-877-985-8477. All calls are anonymous.