Types of Personal Injury Fraud

Premeditated personal injury fraud – auto insurance

The common auto insurance scams described below are carried out by seasoned
criminals, who attempt to claim debilitating injuries in order to get income
replacement and other financial benefits from insurance companies. These
sophisticated criminals often plan accidents, hire witnesses to back up their
stories, and provide all kinds of false documentation to support their

Swoop and squat

In this scenario, a “swoop” car suddenly speeds up and cuts off the “squat”
car (sometimes an innocent person in the wrong place at the wrong time and
sometimes an accomplice). Unable to stop in time, the “squat” car rear-ends the
“swoop” car. Usually, everyone who is in on the scam claims some sort of injury,
and makes an auto insurance claim.

This sounds harmless enough – what’s a little fender bender? But in the past
this scam has been known to go horribly wrong, with innocent victims being
seriously injured and even killed.

Juan and Maria Lopez and their two-year-old daughter Joanna were burned alive
when two men tried to stage a car collision on a California freeway in 1997. The
criminals chose to cut-off a tractor-trailer (the “squat” vehicle), forcing it
to stop suddenly. The Lopez’s, behind the tractor trailer, also stopped suddenly
and were rammed from behind by a gravel truck, killing the young family.

Fortunately, such a tragic result is not the norm, but you never know what
will happen when cars collide at high speed. Real accidents are dangerous
enough. Criminals can try to stage a “safe” accident, but they have no control
over road conditions and the reactions of other drivers. This happens every day
on Canadian streets and highways, putting everyone at risk.

Drive down

The criminal appears to yield and waves to the innocent victim to proceed
with a merge or lane change. As the victim merges, the criminal drives into the
innocent driver, and later denies that he or she had waved the victim on.


The criminal targets an innocent driver and purposely collides with the side
of the target vehicle. This usually occurs in busy intersections with dual left
turn lanes. If the victim in the inner lane drifts even a little into the outer
lane, the criminal intentionally causes a collision.

Imaginary accidents

In some auto insurance fraud schemes, no accident ever really happens. The
criminal reports an accident and subsequent injury, and makes a claim, but the
accident only exists on paper. In some cases, police are called to the scene of
an alleged “hit and run,” where only one car is present, and damage has been

Seat sales

This is a common feature of staged accidents. The principal perpetrator of
the accident will “sell” passenger spaces in the car for a set price or a
percentage of the passenger’s insurance claim. In some cases, the passengers do
not even ride in the car when the accident occurs.

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Premeditated personal injury fraud – liability insurance

This type of fraud is most commonly referred to as a “slip/trip and fall.”
And it is as simple as it sounds. The criminal pretends to have been seriously
injured on your property – at your place of business or your home. The amounts
awarded for these claims are covered by your liability insurance, commercial
insurance or under occupiers’ liability.