Social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter have quickly become the claims investigator’s friend, as they can provide vital clues in pinpointing and unraveling insurance fraud rings and isolated offenses.
One case is point is the pending trial of four Sacramento, Calif. women for their suspected involvement in a staged auto accident scheme. Though the women denied knowing one another prior to a collision in December of 2011, detectives learned over the course of the ensuing claims investigation that the foursome were in fact acquainted at least in the digital sense, as “friends” on Facebook.
According to the California Department of Insurance (CDI), Susan Lee, 24; Angelique Jones, 20; Angela Medeiros, 40; and Krystelmaree Marquez, 23, allegedly conspired to defraud auto insurers out of more than $37,000.
Dave Althausen, CDI spokesman, reports that Marquez rented a U-Haul truck on Dec. 11, 2011 and opted for the extra insurance protection. While driving the truck the next day, she was involved in a collision with a Toyota Yaris driven by Medeiros, with Lee and Jones riding as passengers. All four women claimed crash-related injuries for which they sought attention.
Although Medeiros then told insurance company representatives that she did not know the others, detectives discovered prior ties, namely Facebook friendships.
Authorities subsequently arrested Medeiros, Lee, and Jones on suspicion of three fraud charges, including providing false statements in support of an insurance claim and participating in a vehicle collision for the purpose of submitting a false insurance claim. Meanwhile Marquez, who faces the same allegations, has evaded arrest, at least for now.
If convicted of all the charges, each suspected fraudster could face two to five years in state prison and/or a $50,000 fine.
Stay tuned for updates as this case unfolds.