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Pennsylvania AG announces insurance fraud sweep

The attorney general of Pennsylvania announced on Sept. 22 that 27 individuals had been taken into custody in a sweep following a statewide effort to combat white collar crime. The individuals are to be charged with various forms of insurance fraud ranging from forging prescriptions to claiming disability benefits while working. Kane said that insurance fraud costs the economy billions of dollars each year.

The investigation was conducted by personnel from the Office of Attorney General working in the Insurance Fraud Section, which has the necessary authority to investigate and prosecute such activity. Funding for the Insurance Fraud Section is partly drawn from a trust fund established by legislation in 1994. All insurance companies authorized to do business in Pennsylvania make annual contributions to the fund.

Many of those taken into custody are charged with attempting to defraud their auto insurance companies. Some are said to have exaggerated the damage sustained by their vehicle in accidents, and two men are charged with burning a vehicle before placing an insurance claim. Some charges relate to falsifying workers' compensation claims, and one woman is charged with making a fraudulent slip-and-fall claim.

Prosecutors and law enforcement officers often make sweeping statements after an operation has led to a large number of individuals being charged with a crime or the seizure of a substantial amount of contraband. However, the cases created by this kind of effort do not always withstand close scrutiny. The law requires that criminal charges be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, and it also places strict limits on how police may gather evidence. A defense attorney may seek to have charges reduced or dismissed when witness statements or police reports are vague or contradictory.

Source: WeAreCentralPA.com, "Insurance Fraud Sweet Nets 27", September 22, 2014

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