Insurers’ losses put at $634,000 in alleged insurance fraud scheme

Published: 2010-03-17 19:20:52
Author: Keith L. Martin | Insurance & Financial Advisor | February 22, 2010

Seventeen people from Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including a chiropractor and lawyer, face charges of mail fraud in connection with a scheme to cheat insurers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by staging phony auto accidents.

The 17 defendants are accused of willingly filing false accident reports in order to receive free medical care and attempted to receive civil settlement payments, according to the indictment, announced by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office, along with the FBI and the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, said that insurers allegedly victimized by the scheme include MetLife, Allstate, Safe Auto, AIG, Liberty Mutual, Nationwide and USAA. It is alleged that loss amounts paid out by all the affected insurers for property damage, medical expenses, and civil settlements for these fictitious accidents exceeded $634,000. The total loss charged in this indictment is more than $167,000.

Through the alleged scheme, accident “victims” would file fraudulent claims after staging phony accidents or falsely representing that an accident occurred when it had not. The indictment further alleges that certain defendants obtained false police reports from a former Philadelphia police officer, recruited participants to be named drivers and passengers in the fake accidents, referred alleged “victims” to a chiropractor and attorneys, and demanded kickbacks from civil settlement awards.

Cover stories provided

The defendants also allegedly provided a false story for “victims” to tell the chiropractor, lawyer and insurance company and, in some cases, it is alleged that in order to make the vehicles appear they had been in a real accident, they were intentionally damages at an auto body shop or by driving them into a wall, according to officials.

Dr. Stephen Rios, 45, a chiropractor from Philadelphia, Pa., faces 23 counts of mail fraud for his alleged role in falsifying patient treatment records and billing for fictitious services in order to obtain money as part of the scheme and in order to obtain higher civil settlements for the accident “victims.”

Also named in the indictment is attorney Glori A. Kasner, 36, of Huntington Valley, Pa., who is charged with mail fraud related to two of the alleged accidents. It is alleged that she helped to fraudulently obtain civil settlement payments in those cases for individuals who had never been in an accident.

Among the others charged through the indictment are Jermaine Blassengale, 32, of Philadelphia; Glen Britton, 47, of Sewell, N.J.; Walter Burnett, 33, of Philadelphia; Anthony Pollitt, 41, of Magnolia, N.J.; Reynaldo Rivera, 39, of Croydon, Pa.; and Patrick Watson, 52, of Bellmawr, N.J.

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