A year-long investigation by the New York police department netted the arrest of sixteen people in Brooklyn for what police say was a scam to defraud insurance companies by faking accidents, or causing them intentionally.

According to police the scheme involved the renting of U-Haul trucks which were then used to intentionally collide with other vehicles. Those involved in the scam, police say, were also putting themselves in the way of moving vehicles and pretending they had been struck and injured. Under the New York State no-fault insurance law, a claim for up to $50,000 can be made for physical therapy and other cases can be filed separately to pay for personal injury.

New York defensive drivers know to be on the lookout for other drivers who not paying attention or are careless about the way they drive, but it is difficult to avoid a collision with someone who is intentionally aiming to crash into you. It is also difficult to avoid pedestrians who willingly throw themselves in front of your vehicle without regard for their safety and then claim injury.

Fortunately police and insurance companies are aware of such schemes and routinely break up these groups of conspirators. This does little to help those drivers who have already been swindled by such enterprising crooks. The money and time and effort they have wasted defending themselves in these fraudulent cases is likely gone forever and not to be recouped.

For New York defensive drivers the best advice is to be savvy about where you are, where you are going and what other people are doing around you. It is not always possible to avoid a collision, but you certainly have some say in how you handle yourself afterwards. Be certain to collect all relevant facts about the crash. Take an abundance of photos of the “victim” as well as your own vehicle and be certain you are careful to list facts about what happened while they are fresh in your memory.

Remember, the best offense to fraudulent activity is a good defense. Be careful, but wise, and be on the lookout for scammers.

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