As the nation's economy crumbles and the job market falters, many drivers are finding it difficult to make their car payments, and are looking for a way out. Unfortunately, one popular way lies with insurance fraud: burning a car and then claiming that the car was stolen.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, "potential owner give-ups," most of which involve burned cars, increased from 511 in 2004 to 986 in 2007. These numbers represent a "small percentage of the reality out there," according to Frank Scafidi, a spokesman for the anti-fraud group.
To distinguish fires set by car thieves and those set by people trying to scam the insurance companies, investigators use a variety of techniques. Two of the most telling clues are seen by looking at the finances and car payments of the vehicle's owner; the other involves what make and model was destroyed.
A high number of these cases can be traced back to the owner, due in part to their criminal naivete.; Most involved parties aren't professional crooks, but everyday people looking for a way out of a dire financial situation.