Crime Spree Involves Staged Accidents Targeting Big Rigs
- Criminals in Las Vegas are targeting trucks in a deliberate attempt to cause an accident for the purpose of collecting insurance money.
- About 100 suspected staged accidents along the I-15 corridor through the metropolitan Las Vegas area have been reported to the National Insurance Crime Bureau in the past 12-18 months and as many as 25 of those accidents targeted tractor-trailer trucks.
- The NICB has released some public service announcements to warn the nation of this crime.
DES PLAINES, Illinois — Criminals in Las Vegas are preying on drivers of big rigs in a deliberate attempt to cause an accident for the purpose of collecting insurance money, the National Insurance Crime Bureau warned on Thursday.
As many as 100 suspected staged accidents along the I-15 corridor through the metropolitan Las Vegas area have been reported to NICB in the past 12-18 months and as many as 25 of those accidents targeted tractor-trailer trucks.
While the bulk of the accidents have occurred in Nevada, officials believe the criminal activity is nationwide, so the NICB has released public safety announcements advising motorists across the country about this scheme.
Trucks are the main target because crooks perceive them as cash cows because they carry high levels of insurance, said Paul Enos of the Nevada Trucking Association, in a statement.
"You know when a driver is behind the wheel of something that weighs 80,000 pounds, and someone deliberately slams on the brakes in front of them, that's not going to be a good day for anybody," he said.
Investigators have also discovered that the criminals dupe people into being passengers without telling them they may be in the accidents.
"In some cases, we are coming across the same people at different accident scenes," said Trooper Loy Hixson of the Nevada Highway Patrol. "They use different cars and different names, but we collect every bit of information and that's a red flag that these are willing participants being paid to participate. But some of these people are being recruited from day labor gathering sites and are being told they will be taken to a job site when, in fact, they are being used as victims solely to increase the value of the accident claim. Our real concern is that we do not want innocent lives to be lost."
Michael Geeser of the Nevada Insurance Council urges motorists to take photos of all the vehicles and the people involved, as well as getting license plates and information on all the participants to assist law enforcement in the investigation.
To report suspected staged accidents, call (800) TEL-NICB, text keyword "fraud" to TIP411 (847411) or visit NCIB.org.
Edmunds says: Driver awareness may help fight crime on the highway.