Last month, hundreds of insurance company investigators, special agents, law enforcement officials, and other partners in (fighting) crime from across the nation and several other countries gathered in San Antonio, Texas for the International Association of Special Investigation Units (IASIU) 26th annual seminar.
This educational offering represents one of many mechanisms the non-profit organization uses to further investigator training and community outreach while supporting anti-fraud legislation. The ultimate goal of IASIU and its membership is to prevent and detect insurance fraud, which the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud (CAIF) projects to cost insurers and policyholders an excess of $80 billion each year.
During a ceremony held on Sept. 12, IASIU recognized a select number of individuals who have gone above and beyond the call of duty, and whose tireless efforts and relentless pursuit of unraveling fraud have not only benefited the insurance industry but also society at large. David J. Rioux, vice president of corporate security at Erie Insurance and IASIU president, enlisted the help of fellow board members to distribute the 2011 awards in four categories: outstanding service, public service, analyst of the year, and investigator of the year.
Miles H. Watters Jr. of State Farm received the Outstanding Service Award. A 30-year claims professional, Watters has trained hundreds of claims and investigative professionals throughout his career and has served as president of the National Society of Professional Insurance Investigators and a board member of the International Association of Arson Investigators.
Ellen Withers, IASIU Secretary, presented the 2011 Outstanding Public Service award to Dave Klimek, a special agent at the FBI. Klimek dismantled a large-scale staged crash ring in Texas, resulting in a 21 individuals being sent to federal prison.
After receiving a standing ovation, Klimek donated half of his award to a memorial fund that honors two officers killed in the line of duty. IASIU donated $10,000 to the same organization earlier this year. Klimek donated the remaining half to the Wounded Warrior Project, the chosen beneficiary of the seminar’s golf tournament.
In other awards, NICB’s Anna Kostovos was named the Analyst of the Year for her impressive work related to a large commercial loss claim. The Investigator of the Year award went to Pamela Stiefel of Hartford Insurance. Stiefel’s successful operation began with a single suspicious claim involving a pickup truck and led to a far-reaching scam involving hundreds of vehicles being exported to Mexico and Lebanon.
“[Her] investigation helped to spur legislation to close loopholes that had allowed these scams to thrive,” noted Rioux during the presentation.