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Organized Crime Causes Spike In Car Insurance Fraud

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Mark Kulda of the Insurance Federation of Minnesota says anyone involved in even a slight car accident could be at risk for insurance fraud.

"You might be driving down the street and maybe have a very minor accident and that could trigger a case where there could be insurance fraud," Kulda said. "People would be very shocked to know who is involved."

Organized crime involved in insurance fraud has gone up from 16 claims five years ago to 53 in 2011.

"There's evidence that the Russian mafia is here in south Minneapolis setting up fake clinics, staging fake accidents, overbilling, billing for accidents that never happened," he said.

The criminals cash in by making out on staged collisions and fake personal injury claims - getting as much as $40,000 per person.

"There's direct evidence to show that those fraudsters are coming here to Minn. and setting up shop," he said.

Minnesota's No Fault policy may be leaving us vulnerable. That's because insurance companies pay the bills no matter who caused the crash.

Other states have deep investigations and court cases to determine who was at fault. Insurance experts say the math is simple: fake claims equal higher premiums - about $100 a year for an average policy.

The No Fault law isn't necessarily outdated, but experts like Michael Rothman - commissioner of the Department of Commerce - say it needs better support policies so crooks can't take advantage of it.

"My highest priority was to make sure that criminals who were thinking about coming to Minn. stopped and said we're not coming to Minn.," Rothman said.

Insurance fraud is a felony level offense in Minnesota. If you are in an accident, you can do a few things to spot fraud:

* Check with your insurance company to make sure the damage estimates match the actual damage done.

* Check to see if the insurance claims include medical bills for people not involved.

* And if something doesn't look right - report it.

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