Webinar presenter Amy Phelps answered a number of your questions after her webinar, Investigating Staged Accidents. Here are just a few of her responses.
Audience Question: As a private forensic consultant, can I be granted access to the ISO program?
Amy Phelps: I don’t know. I know it’s open for law enforcement and for insurance members. That’s something that I’d be happy to follow up on. If he’ll copy my e-mail, I think he can probably get that information through a law enforcement partner or the Attorney General’s Office. But if they’re doing private investigations for somebody specific. A lot of times, we have third-party investigators in the state of Kentucky, because they don’t have boots on the ground here, for certain insurance companies. ——- is acting in that capacity, they would have the ISO access and could share that material with him.
Audience Question: Are Canadian law enforcement agencies able to access the claims search system and work with an NICB?
Amy Phelps: There is, I just got this last week, I did a presentation on medical clinic inspections, and we had investigators in Kentucky, needing access to Canadian information. So, I was able to work it that way. Now, working backward, I’m happy to do that. Please have them e-mail me. I did find the information of who we in the States contact in Canada, so I’m happy to work that backward for them.
Audience Question: Given the high likelihood of insurance coverage, are larger brand-name commercial vehicles frequently targeted?
Amy Phelps: They have been for theft. We had the onslaught of Kia and Hyundai theft going on because of TikTok videos. We find that in first-stage collisions, there’s no whole bar on what kind of vehicles they use. I do know they target newer vehicles to involve if it’s a non-participant, a victim that’s actually a victim if it’s an innocent party that they’ve targeted to have really ——- them. They do usually, target newer cars that would have full coverage on them. Most people carry full coverage until the vehicles are paid for. And I do see them targeting that, but no brand or model.
Audience Question: With the increased use of dash cameras in vehicles, do criminals tend to avoid vehicles with visible dash cam gear?
Amy Phelps: I would imagine they would, on a personally owned vehicle. They do when they notice a police officer’s body cam, they do try to move around to where the police officer is not close to the car. I have seen them position themselves in a way where the interior of the car can’t be seen that well. And that allows them to add jump ends or additional parties in there. But I would, and I’m not seeing the data, but I would imagine that they would veer away from that because in all the investigations I’ve done involving possible stage collisions, I only had one where the victim had video. And it was at night, not but they didn’t see it.
Audience Question: How often do you see spoofed photos or videos submitted by the claimants?
Amy Phelps: We see pictures that we can use metadata and find that that picture is not authentic. I have not personally found any video that’s been provided that was fictitious, but I have had fictitious pictures, dates, and times. And a lot of times you can reset those dates and times in an iPhone, but there’s other ways to figure out if it’s been tampered with. So, I’ve seen it in still photos, not videos.
Audience Question: It almost sounds like this is run by a crime ring no different than a dogfighting ring or trafficking organization, is that correct? And if so, can they be prosecuted under RICO?
Amy Phelps: They can be prosecuted under RICO. That’s a great question. The presentation I did that involves $62 million in loans —— are prosecuting that as RICO. And, yes, it does fall into that organized criminal syndication, those law enforcement statutes.
Audience Question: Have you seen any attorneys that have been charged for the fraud that you’ve been describing?
Amy Phelps: Yes. They seem to be the least…. When we present these cases, the prosecutors feel more comfortable going out, going after the medical providers than they have the attorneys. The attorneys seem to have the most hands-off participation. They direct the payment, but they are the most hands-off from the circle. So, I have seen it, I’ve seen it several times in Florida. In my four-year career here so far in NICB have only seen it once in Louisville, Kentucky. But, yes, we’re constantly trying to show the whole picture in the whole circle.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of Investigating Staged Accidents.