SC insurance-fraud claims double in 2010

Aiken County, however, was slim on complaints

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COLUMBIA -- Aiken County was home to only $66,000 of the $14.5 million in suspected insurance fraud cases reported to the South Carolina Attorney General’s office last year.

And of nearly 600 cases received, only 13 originated in Aiken County, according to the state's annual report.

The cases received in 2010 amounted to nearly $14.5 million in insurance fraud, more than twice the dollar amount reported in 2009. Of that, $11.9 million related to automobile insurance fraud, according to a year-end report released this week.

However, of the $14.5 million in suspected fraud, convictions were elusive. Defendants were ordered to pay a total of $316,270 in restitution to victims.

Russ Dubisky, executive director of the nonprofit S.C. Insurance News Service, said cases may still be under investigation.

Insurance companies typically refer complaints to the state after their their in-house investigators research suspicious claims. Dubisky said common scenarios include automobile owners who stage accidents or inflate damages and the severity of injuries after an accident.

Following automobile-insurance fraud, health and medical insurance fraud followed in second place with $1.3 million.

A total of $7.8 million has been collected since the S.C. Attorney General's Insurance Fraud Division began prosecuting insurance fraud cases 16 years ago. Since then, there have been 1,275 criminal convictions and 728 civil remedies.

The most recent data show that the Midlands, Lowcountry, Pee Dee and Piedmont each claimed roughly the same percentage of the cases opened by the state.

Richland County reported the largest volume of complaints, with 62, totaling $188,000, most of which came from 17 complaints related to personal/commercial property insurance fraud. Lexington County had 34 complaints, equating to the largest dollar value of fraud reported, $11.3 million. Most were auto-insurance fraud complaints, according to the state report.

Reach Sarita Chourey at sarita.chourey@morris.com or (803) 727-4257


Who to Call

Victims or witnesses can anonymously report suspected fraud themselves by using the Insurance Fraud Hotline 1-888-95-FRAUD.


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