12 NEWS DEFENDERS: Scammers staging car accidents - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

12 NEWS DEFENDERS: Scammers staging car accidents

They are predators on the road – scam artists looking to rip off insurance companies and they make you and your car a target. But there are some ways to protect yourself.

"Make money by having an actual job. Instead of going around scamming innocent people," one victim said.

The victim is still angry after she got tangled in an insurance scam by simply being at an intersection.

"I was stopped at a stop sign and a car was going to turn left in front of me. So, she waved me on. As I was turning she hit the back of my car," the victim said.

As soon as it happened, the victim approached the other car.

"I asked if everyone was ok, and they all had a different ailment. It was 'It's my neck, my knee, my eye.' They were all wearing seatbelts. So, I knew that I had been scammed right away," the victim said.

Immediately she grabbed her cell phone.

"I started taking pictures with my cell phone. That seemed to upset them greatly. They didn't want me taking pictures of their car or anyone in the car, because I knew they weren't telling the truth. There was no way they could have injured themselves in the way they were describing just by a little bump to my car," the victim said.

Postal inspectors say the victim was one of 80 targeted by this group alone. Total losses: $130,000.

"All of a sudden they're in this car accident and they have no idea how they got there because they were being waved on," said US Postal Inspector Stephanie Barrett.

Another version of the scam occurs in parking lots when the victim is backing out of a spot.

"The suspect's car would stop and wave them out of the parking spot. And they would start going out of the spot and the suspect car would drive as fast as they could and hit the other vehicle," Barrett said.

Inspectors got a lucky break.

"On her case, we happened to get the black box from the vehicle the suspect was driving. It shows them going from a dead stop at 0 miles per hour to 30 in 2 seconds in order to hit her car," Barrett said.

"I always try to give people the benefit of the doubt. I'm trusting by nature - but it has hardened me to not really believe everything someone says or does," the victim said.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau offers these tips:

  • Avoid tailgating
  • Call police to an accident scene...even if the damage is minimal.
  • Take pictures of the damage and make note of the number of people in the other car.
  • Avoid people who suddenly appear at an accident scene and try to direct you to a doctor or lawyer.
  • Also, watch out for tow trucks that arrive at the scene without you calling.

Find more tips on the National Insurance Crime Bureau website

Copyright 2014 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.

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