Car surfing and collecting benefits behind bars: MPI's Top Five Frauds of 2019
WINNIPEG -- Another year is almost in the books and with that Manitoba Public Insurance has released a list detailing the top five fraud cases of 2019.
An MPI spokesperson said they’ve been compiling the annual list for around 15 years.
“There’s a wide variety of fraudulent actions, unfortunately,” said Brian Smiley with MPI. “But fortunately for our customers, we have a special investigation unit which is on top of that.”
INCIDENT ONE: PRISON BLUES
The first case involves a man who suffered serious injuries after being in a crash. He started receiving money to replace his income, which resulted in payments of $3,600 a month. MPI said as time went on, his case manager struggled to communicate with the man. Eventually the case manager received a letter from the man saying he was emotionally distressed and needed a mental break and holiday. On top of that, he said he would be out of touch for several months, while staying in northern Saskatchewan.
An investigation was launched and MPI learned the man was in a federal prison, meaning he was ineligible to receive payments from MPI.
The benefits were stopped immediately, resulting in almost $200,000 in savings.
INCIDENT TWO: SMILE FOR THE CAMERA
MPI said the second incident began with a woman opening a physical damage and theft claim, and her pick-up truck was found in an apartment parking lot, badly damaged.
Her husband said he was the last to drive the truck as he went to a friend’s house. The man admitted to drinking several beers at his friend’s house and said they then walked to a nearby bar where they drank more.
He said once they were done he decided to leave the truck at his friend’s house and walk home, and he assumed someone must have stolen his key fob while he was at the bar.
MPI launched an investigation due to what it called “irregularities” in the man’s story. The investigator found a surveillance camera across the street from the parking lot and the footage showed the truck being driven erratically into the parking lot, hitting a number of vehicles and then the driver exiting the truck, locking it and staggering away.
The man withdrew his claim after watching the surveillance footage and agreed to pay the damages for the other vehicle. This allowed MPI ratepayers to save more than $15,000.
INCIDENT THREE: VEHICLE COMPUTER REVEALS ALL
Two men made claims saying they got into a two-vehicle crash at a rural intersection. A friend of one of the men said she was driving, missed a stop sign and hit another vehicle in the intersection.
MPI started an investigation because of inconsistencies in the stories and damage to the vehicles. After looking over data from the vehicle’s on-board computer, it was learned the one vehicle, a Honda, wasn’t moving for five seconds before accelerating and steering into the other vehicle, a Jaguar.
The evidence also confirmed there wasn’t anyone in the Jaguar during the crash.
Afterwards, the owner of the Honda admitted to staging the crash in a large storage yard, saying money was a factor for his decisions.
The investigation saved nearly $70,000 and the two men eventually pleaded guilty to filing a false statement to MPI and were fined $3,000 each.
INCIDENT FOUR: VEHICLE SURFER
A man, 34, opened a claim saying he was a victim of auto theft and suffered several injuries. If the claim was approved, the man would have received income replacement payments.
He told MPI he hired a driver for his car and while running errands one day the windshield wipers were not working properly. He said he got out of the car to fix them and that’s when the driver tried to drive away.
The man said he got onto the trunk of the car and had to smash the back window to try and get back into the car. He said the car eventually crashed and he was thrown onto the pavement.
His story didn’t line up with what witnesses were telling police -- they said they saw a man standing on top of the vehicle, hooting and hollering and waving his arms and laughing.
The police report said the car hit another parked vehicle and the man’s claim was denied because his injuries were the result of careless and wilful actions.
INCIDENT FIVE: A PAIN IN THE NECK
A woman opened a claim after she said her vehicle rolled into a ditch during an attempt to avoid two deer on a rural Manitoba road. The woman sustained a number of injuries, including fractures around her neck area.
The woman said she was suffering from severe headaches and neck pain and she wasn’t able to take care of herself or her children.
After getting some tips, MPI started an investigation and over a two-week period the woman was seen driving her vehicle, shopping for long periods of time, playing VLTs and pushing a double stroller with her two children. These actions went against her claims that she was bedridden.
The woman’s benefits were terminated, resulting in savings of $23,000. MPI also wants her to repay almost $10,000 in personal care expenses that had been paid out.