Insurance Fraud

Insurance fraud generally falls into two categories in Albany County (1) crimes of opportunity and (2) frauds that originate elsewhere in the state but whose claims are processed in Albany.

In the first category fraudsters are trying to avoid the consequences of their own reckless actions. Defendants will crash their cars, usually while under the influence of alcohol, and if they are able to flee the scene on foot will report their vehicle stolen the next day. Once the police locate the vehicle, wrecked, the defendants will then file a fraudulent claim with their insurance company receiving a cash pay out. 

One such case in 2011 was the People of the State of New York vs. Dwayne Harrell. Mr. Harrell lent his vehicle to a friend who, while intoxicated, crashed the vehicle and fled on foot. The defendant was informed by his friend that evening what had happened at which point Mr. Harrell told his friend to leave the vehicle where it was and not report the crash. Mr. Harrell filed a stolen car report with the Albany Police Department and once his vehicle was discovered filed a fraudulent claim with his insurance company. Mr. Harrell’s insurance company paid out $5,400 for the damages.  As the result of a thorough investigation the Albany Police Department discovered the identity of the driver and arrested him for Grand Larceny. The driver quickly gave the Albany Police a true recitation of events. Mr. Harrell was then questioned and quickly confessed to the scheme. On 2/10/11 Dwayne Harrell pled guilty to Insurance Fraud in the 3rd Degree with a sentence of 5 years felony level probation and restitution.

The second category involves more planned action. Motor vehicle accidents will be staged by defendants in other parts of the state and after the accident is reported the defendants will then file claims with their insurance companies. Since many insurance companies are headquartered in Albany there are instances when such schemes do not become criminal until the fraudulent claims are filed with the corporate headquarters in Albany.  Our office partners with the New York State Department of Financial Services Criminal Investigations Unit and the State of New York Insurance Department Frauds Bureau for the investigation and prosecution of insurance fraud crimes.