Manitoba Public Insurance released its annual list of Top 5 frauds, including a man ordered to pay $60,000 for a hit and run he tried to claim was not his fault.
The suspicious claims, unravelled by MPI's Special Investigation Unit (SIU), could have cost more than $9 million had they not been caught.
No. 1: Expensive hangover
A Winnipeg man was given a $1,500 fine and ordered to pay $60,000 in vehicle damages to MPI after he pleaded guilty to making a false statement under the Highway Traffic Act.
The man and several of his friends partied at a Winnipeg bar and eventually wrapped up their alcohol-fuelled festivities at his house. At 6 a.m., the man was driving one of his pals home when he sideswiped another vehicle. An off-duty police officer, who was heading to work, witnessed the crash and saw the driver run away from his badly-damaged vehicle.
A check of the vehicle registration revealed the owner lived only a block away from the crash scene. When police went to the house, the man was drinking beer and denied any involvement, despite the off-duty officer being able to identify him in a photo line-up.
One of the man’s drinking pals later confessed the man had been the driver at the time of the crash.
No. 2: Smile for the camera
Two vehicle owners received fines of more than $1,000 and their claims, totalling more than $16,000, were denied after they pleaded guilty to public mischief.
A security camera mounted on the side of a building captured a man casually walking up to two vehicles, smashing out the windows and setting them on fire. During the subsequent arson investigation, one of the vehicle owners admitted he wanted to get rid of his vehicle because of repair issues.
He also admitted that the other vehicle owner, a co-worker and friend, wanted his vehicle destroyed as well. The name of the arsonist was also provided to investigators.
While watching the surveillance film, investigators observed that the arsonist was injured after being struck by a flying object when the gasoline ignited. During the interview with the arsonist, investigators observed a large, fresh scar on his forehead and he admitted his involvement.
No. 3: Black box tells all
Thanks to modern technology — vehicle data crash recorder — a Winnipeg man was fined $1,000 after pleading guilty to fraud. His $8,200 claim with MPI was also denied.
The man’s Chevy Cobalt was in poor mechanical condition and with hopes of having it written off, he arranged for a staged collision with an acquaintance. The man told his MPI adjustor that he was the victim of a hit and run after a large truck drove through a stop sign and struck his vehicle.
The story quickly unravelled when the vehicle’s crash data recorder confirmed that the vehicle was parked at the time of the crash.
No. 4: Mother’s bad decision
A Winnipeg woman was fined $1,100 after pleading guilty to making a false statement to MPI and her claim of $20,000 was also denied.
She claimed she was alone at the time of the crash but the vehicle’s data crash recorder confirmed that the passenger seat was occupied at the time.
In addition to the vehicle’s data crash recorder, several witnesses at the crash scene told police the vehicle was driven by a man who was accompanied by a female passenger. Witnesses told police that the man appeared impaired, smelled strongly of alcohol and was unsteady on his feet.
No. 5: Not so injured
A Winnipeg man was fined $1,000 and ordered to pay restitution of $8,466 to MPI after pleading guilty to fraud.
The man began receiving income replacement benefits after being injured in a crash and insisting he was too hurt to return to work.
An investigation found the man had returned to work as a professional driver and his own activity logs showed 131 shifts worked of varying lengths.
Anyone knowing someone who is involved in auto insurance fraud is encouraged to call the anonymous MPI tip line at 204-985-8477 or toll-free 1-877-985-8477.
The SIU investigates about 3,000 claims yearly.