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Being properly covered by insurance is extremely important. Most people today have a variety of insurance policies in place including auto, medical, life, and home insurance. In the vast majority of situations, people follow their insurance guidelines as closely possible. However, there are situations in which someone could take advantage of their insurance company and collect proceeds that they are not entitled to. In these situations, they could be committing insurance fraud.
Examples of Insurance Fraud
There are a variety of situations and acts that can be an example of insurance fraud. The most common example is when you knowingly make misleading claims about an insurance claim. This can include making up a story or exaggerating the situation, lying about your part in an accident, or claiming losses that did not actually incur.
Another example of insurance fraud is if you provide documents that are fraudulent or misleading. For example, if you were to doctor a piece of paper from an auto mechanic to make it seem as if your damages were larger than they actually were, you could be found guilty of insurance fraud.
While it is illegal to make fraudulent claims about your own insurance claims, it is also against the law to assist someone else in making false claims. If you are determined to knowingly help someone to make a false claim, you could be found guilty of insurance fraud even if you were not going to personally benefit from the claim.
Other Similar Crimes
If you are charged with insurance fraud, there is a chance that you could be charged with a variety of other serious crimes as well. There are not any specific statutes in place that govern how insurance fraud cases are handled. Because of this, federal prosecutors could pursue charges against you that fall under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. These charges are often coupled with both mail fraud and wire fraud, each of which can come with significant penalties.
When FBI is Involved
While the majority of insurance fraud cases are handled by local authorities, there are situations in which it will automatically trigger an investigation by the FBI. One situation in which the FBI will step in is if the fraud involved stealing or diverting funds from a disaster relief fund. Another example is when you are clearly trying to embezzle insurance premiums or try to take advantage of insurance companies that have recently gone through a merger.
Since the scope of insurance fraud can vary significantly from one case to the next, the penalties that you could be assessed can also vary. While the majority of cases are settled outside of court without any imprisonment, those that are charged under the RICO act could end up being charged much more serious penalties and could face year in prison.
Beyond being charged with federal criminal charges, you are also risking serious civil cases. If the insurance company determines that you made a fraudulent claim and do no immediately return the insurance proceeds, you likely will be facing a lawsuit. In these cases, they could also sue for additional damages, which can be very expensive.
If you have been charged with insurance fraud, it is extremely important that you hire a criminal lawyer to assist you. Due to the fact that insurance fraud can be coupled with other felonies, you could be facing major punishment if you are found guilty. Because of this, you will want to hire an attorney that is skilled in assessing and defending insurance fraud cases. The attorney will be able to provide you with a variety of cases to help you prepare for either a civil or criminal case.