Posted on 23 Mar 2010
The owner of a Westchester County pizzeria, a Monticello insurance underwriter, a Monroe County podiatrist and an Erie County woman who bought insurance to fix a car that had already been wrecked all shared a common predicament in 2009 – they were convicted of insurance fraud.
The cases are among those noted in the newly released New York State Insurance Department's Frauds Bureau Annual Report for 2009, which documents a 24 percent increase in insurance fraud-related convictions.
“Insurance fraud is on the upswing and fighting this crime is among the Insurance Department’s highest priorities. The Department is committed to working closely with local authorities to investigate and prosecute these cases. Insurance fraud is serious because it unnecessarily drives up the cost of insurance for honest New Yorkers,” Insurance Superintendent James Wrynn said.
The annual report notes sharp increases in virtually all of the areas under the Bureau’s responsibility. For example:
* A total of 499 people were convicted of insurance fraud or related crimes as a result of Bureau investigations in 2009, a 24 percent from the previous year. There were 738 arrests, somewhat fewer than the 755 arrests in 2008.
* The Bureau received 24,920 reports of suspected fraud, an increase of more than eight percent.
* A total of 1,707 new cases were opened for investigation, up nearly 25 percent.
* There were 184 arrests for workers’ compensation fraud, up 16 percent.
* The Bureau’s General Unit recorded 110 arrests in 2009, up from 69 the previous year.
The Bureau investigates a range of insurance-related crimes. These include complex investigations like those involving the Monticello underwriter, who was convicted of stealing $22.5 million in premiums, or the Monroe County podiatrist convicted of submitting $750,000 in fraudulent medical billings for treatments he never provided to nursing home patients.