Vehicle Insurance Fraud
The term “vehicle insurance fraud” is used to describe any act that involves obtaining financial gain from an auto insurance company through fraudulent means. This includes a variety of activities ranging from planning a collision to exaggerating injuries sustained in an accident. In recent years, both state and federal prosecutors have attempted to crack down on the number of auto insurance-related fraud schemes occurring across the country. Unfortunately, this means that innocent individuals are often swept up in an investigation, so if you have been falsely accused of auto insurance fraud, it is important to contact a white collar crime attorney who can explain your options and help you build a defense.
Types of Auto Fraud
There are two main types of fraud, which are known as soft insurance fraud and hard insurance fraud. Generally, soft insurance fraud involves minor offenses where a person takes advantage of a situation that has already occurred. If, for instance, a person was injured in a collision, but he or she pretended that the injuries were more severe than they actually were in order to receive a higher payment, he or she would have been involved in soft vehicle fraud. This is the most common type of insurance fraud because it is relatively easy to commit, but difficult to detect. Hard insurance, on the other hand, involves much more serious crimes, such as staging a theft, planning a collision, and reporting injuries that never occurred.
Insurance Fraud Convictions
The penalties for any type of auto insurance fraud are severe. However, soft insurance fraud convictions tend to be penalized less harshly, although ultimately, the charges will depend on the amount of money that was unlawfully obtained. For example, if the insurance payout was less than $20,000, a person can be convicted of a third degree felony. Claims that were in excess of $20,000, but less than $100,000 are charged as second degree felonies. Those who obtained $100,000 or more face first degree felony charges, which are punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Furthermore, anyone convicted of staging a car crash or of creating documentation of a crash that never actually occurred will automatically be charged with a second degree felony, be required to spend between two and 15 years in prison, and be required to pay at least $15,000 in civil penalties, although the fine could be increased to $50,000.
Aside from criminal liability, those who are convicted of auto insurance fraud are required to pay a civil penalty of up to $5,000 for a first offense, $10,000 for a second offense, and $15,000 for a third offense. However, in order to be convicted of auto fraud, prosecutors must file a claim within five years of the date that the fraud allegedly took place.
Call Today to Speak with an Experienced White Collar Crime Attorney
To consult with a dedicated Miami attorney about your own auto insurance fraud charges, please call Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. Criminal Defense Attorneys at 305-670-9919 today. We are available to assist you immediately.