A Porsche clunker, a perjuring pedestrian among MPI's top 5 frauds of 2016

A wannabe Manitoban, a guilty son, and friends who crash together made the list of Manitoba Public Insurance's annual Top 5 list of fraud claims.

Investigators closed 2,100 cases last year and halted $8.2 million in payouts on phoney claims

Manitoba Public Insurance investigators saved $8.2 million in what would have been payments on phoney claims in 2016. (Ashley Burke/CBC)

A wannabe Manitoban, a guilty son, and friends who crash together made the list of Manitoba Public Insurance's annual Top 5 list of fraud claims.

Fraudulent and suspicious claims are handled by MPI's special investigation unit, which closed 2,100 cases last year and saved $8.2 million in what would have been payments on phoney claims.

Anyone who knows someone involved in auto insurance fraud is urged to call MPI's tip line at 204-985-8477 or toll-free at 1-877-985-8477. All calls are anonymous.

No. 1: Oops, you're on camera

A pedestrian claimed he was hit by a car and the injuries left him unable to work but the driver of the vehicle adamantly insisted there was no collision.

A member of MPI's special investigation unit went to the scene and found several businesses had security cameras mounted on their buildings. Footage from one of the cameras showed no one had been hit, MPI said.

An experienced collision reconstructionist who examined the footage and location also confirmed there could not have been any contact between the pedestrian and the vehicle. The claim was subsequently denied, saving MPI more than $15,000.

No. 2: Lemon Porsche sours claim

The owner of a Porsche told his insurance adjuster the vehicle had been stolen from his apartment block parking lot in Winnipeg. A theft claim was opened and the police became involved.

The story quickly unravelled when RCMP told MPI a badly damaged and vandalized Porsche had been located in a rural area — a full day before the owner claimed his car had been stolen.

"Obviously, the vehicle had been moved out there by the owner. And we were able to conclusively prove, to the vehicle owner, that we had all the information on this," said MPI spokesman Brian Smiley.

Further examination of the Porsche revealed the vehicle was in "very, very dire need of major mechanical repairs which would have cost the owner several thousand dollars," Smiley said.  "I'm going to suggest this was a financially-motivated fraud."

The owner's theft claim, worth more than $20,000, was denied.

No. 3: Wannabe Manitoban

A man was severely injured in the United States after being involved in a crash. His family claimed he had been visiting the U.S. and opened an injury claim with MPI.

While processing the claim, the case manager received information from a number of agencies that the man had not lived in Manitoba for several years, making him ineligible for benefits.

The man's family withdrew the claim, which could have paid out as much as $500,000.

No. 4: The guilty conscience

After a number of unusual details surfaced, a father and son were asked to give a statement to an investigator about the theft of a pickup truck.

During the interview, the son made a surprising offer to write a promissory note to MPI for nearly $11,000, which equalled the damage costs. However, he declined to discuss it further.

The MPI investigation made things clearer.

The father, the registered owner, said the truck had been stolen from his residence. One day after the reported theft, however, the truck rear-ended another vehicle and fled the scene, with several people witnessing the crash.

"Very obviously, the vehicle had been taken by the son without his father's permission and had gotten into a collision," said Smiley.

"Rather than put his father through what could be coming next, the son stepped up and paid the cost related to that collision."

No. 5: The non-existent accident

While the claim of two vehicles colliding and being badly damaged is not uncommon, the number of unusual details that surfaced during one investigation certainly was.

It was discovered the two individuals knew each other and their vehicles were both in poor running condition. A traffic reconstructionist testified the collision was not accidental, but staged.

One driver pleaded guilty to fraud over $5,000 and received a two-year suspended sentence with supervised probation, 100 hours of community service work and a restitution order of $17,000 to repay MPI.

The second driver, who was also charged with fraud over $5,000, failed to appear in court. A warrant for his arrest has since been issued.