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ICBC warns Labour Day long weekend is one of the most dangerous on B.C. roads

Friday, August 29th, 2014

Every year over the Labour Day long weekend, an average of four people are killed and 560 injured in 1,900 crashes across the province.* Driver distractions, speed and impaired driving are the top contributing factors in Labour Day long weekend casualty crashes.**

As many of us are planning one last summer road trip this long weekend, ICBC is urging drivers to be well prepared and leave plenty of time to get to your destination to avoid rushing and the temptation to drive aggressively.

In a recent ICBC survey, 25 per cent of respondents’ main safety concern on a road trip was other drivers being aggressive, followed by traffic (18 per cent), road conditions (14 per cent), getting into a crash (10 per cent) and speeding drivers (8 per cent).

Tips:

•Pre-trip check: Make sure any camping or outdoor equipment is securely tied down to your vehicle before you take off. Check your engine oil, coolant levels and lights, and inspect your vehicle tires, including the spare, to make sure they’re in good condition and properly inflated.
•Pack an emergency kit. 70 per cent of those surveyed keep an emergency kit in their vehicle. Follow their lead and pack yours with essentials such as food and water, a flashlight, first aid kit, booster cable and emergency signal cone.
•Assign a designated texter: If you need to keep in touch with family or friends during the drive, ask your passengers to make or receive calls and texts for you. If you have to take a call, pull over when it’s safe to do so or use your phone in hands-free mode. If you know someone is behind the wheel, avoid texting, calling or answering to help keep them safe.
•RVs: You’ll likely spot many recreational vehicles on the highways this weekend. If you’re driving in mountainous areas, you may find that many RV’s are driving below the speed limit because they may be underpowered and overloaded. Be patient with these drivers as they are likely going uphill as fast as they can. If you’re driving your RV this weekend, be courteous and pull over to let others by if you’re holding up traffic. This is much safer than a driver making an unsafe pass out of frustration.
•Stay alert: 61 per cent of survey respondents said they feel tired at least sometimes when driving long distances. Get plenty of rest, stay hydrated and take rest breaks every 1.5 to 2 hours to avoid driver fatigue. Fatigue slows your reaction time and even a slight decrease in reaction time can greatly increase your risk of crashing especially when travelling at highway speeds.
•Keep your distance: Allow at least two seconds of following distance in good conditions, and at least three seconds on high-speed roads or if you’re behind a motorcycle since it has a much shorter stopping distance.
Quotes:

“With more traffic expected over the holiday weekend, expect delays and give yourself extra time to get to your destination safely,” said Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “Check road and weather conditions at drivebc.ca before you set off so you know you’re fully prepared for the journey.”

“With the long weekend approaching, we want to remind British Columbians to drive safely and take care behind the wheel,” said Suzanne Anton, Attorney General and Minister of Justice. “Whatever your plans are, be a role model and make smart driving decisions over the long weekend – buckle up, drive safe and sober, and leave the phone alone.”

“Take your time and focus on the road this long weekend,” said Chief Officer Neil Dubord, Chair of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee. “Police will be out in full force across the province to make sure drivers aren’t distracted, follow speed limits and keep their full attention on the road.”

“We want everyone heading out of town for the last long weekend of summer to make it home safely,” said John Dickinson, ICBC’s director of road safety. “Plan your route before you begin driving so you stay focused on the road. There will be many RVs and motorcyclists on our roads this weekend so keep your full attention on driving and help keep everyone safe.”

Regional statistics*:

•Over the Labour Day long weekend, on average, 380 people are injured in 1,200 crashes in the Lower Mainland every year.
•Over the Labour Day long weekend, on average, 81 people are injured in 290 crashes on Vancouver Island every year.
•Over the Labour Day long weekend, on average, 80 people are injured in 290 crashes in the Southern Interior every year.
•Over the Labour Day long weekend, on average, 21 people are injured in 120 crashes in the North Central region every year.
*Based on five year averages (2009 to 2013). Fatality data is police data. Crash and injury data is ICBC data.

**Casualty crashes are motor vehicle crashes resulting in an injury or death. Police data from 2009 to 2013.


Woman who torched her Vancouver nail salon sentenced to 21 months in jail

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

The former owner of a Vancouver nail salon who was convicted of using gasoline to set her business on fire and of attempting to defraud her insurance company was sentenced Tuesday to 21 months in prison.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Arne Silverman also ordered that Trang Dao Thien Nguyen, 43, pay $132,000 in restitution arising from damages caused by the October 2011 fire at the Granville Day Spa on Granville Street.

Court heard that the fire could have resulted in a major explosion and the judge noted that Nguyen, a mother of one, had run a “remarkable risk” and that buildings and businesses could have come down.

“The accused was lucky that no explosion occurred and that no one was killed or injured.”

In addition to the jail sentence, the judge imposed one year of probation on Nguyen. Her conditions include that she is to stay away from Granville Street.

Nguyen, who has been on bail since her arrest shortly after the fire, had little reaction to the sentence. Her husband sat in the public gallery.

Crown counsel Jim Cryder had called for a three-year jail term, arguing that Nguyen’s crime was motivated by financial gain and that she had a high degree of moral culpability.

He said the most aggravating circumstance was that it happened on a busy downtown street and put many people at risk of injury or death.

Cryder said Nguyen put a great deal of planning and deliberation into the arson attack, and noted that she was still denying any responsibility and had shown no remorse.

Brian Juriloff, a lawyer for Nguyen, emphasized his client’s difficult background, noting that she was born in war-torn Vietnam and was among boat people refugees who came to Canada.

He said she has worked hard since coming to Canada and is a good mother who has assisted many of her family and has no prior criminal record.

Juriloff cited 10 letters of support from family and friends of the accused. He called for a conditional sentence for Nguyen.

When she arrived in court, Nguyen handed a Province reporter a 53-page account of her background.

“People who know me know I am an honest genuine person,” said the account. “I lead my life with integrity, honesty, loyalty and I don’t owe or rip (off) people.”

Firefighters were called to the scene when pedestrians on the busy downtown street noticed smoke and intense heat outside the salon.

When firefighters gained access, there were a number of smouldering fires and a lot of black smoke, and the business was charred throughout.

Court heard that a large quantity of gasoline was used and that it was fortunate an explosion with catastrophic consequences did not occur.

Nguyen had purchased an insurance policy just days before the fire. Three days before setting the building on fire, she used her credit card to buy the gasoline.

Just a few hours beforehand, she was seen moving boxes out the back door of the premises.

The Crown’s case was largely circumstantial, but the judge found that given the number and the timing of the circumstances, it was not mere coincidence that Nguyen was on the scene and that the only rational explanation was that she was guilty.

Excerpted article written by KEITH FRASER, THE PROVINCE


Tips for students taking a car to college

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Managing risk associated with accidents

Properly maintain the vehicle

It is important to keep the car in good repair, especially since some students have a long ride from home to their college campus. Be sure that the vehicle is up-to-date on oil changes and other routine maintenance. And avoid breakdowns or other problems before it’s too late.

Know what to do after an accident

No parent wants to see a child involved in an accident. Parents should discuss how to handle the situation with college-bound students.

Immediately after an accident, the driver should check for injuries. Then, exchange information with the other party, including name, phone number and insurance information. Taking pictures of the scene and taking your own notes can be helpful down the road, especially since it is easy to forget the details.

If the other party is at fault, it is especially recommended that drivers call the police for an accident report. Especially since the other driver might admit fault at the scene. It is common for one to recall the incident differently later. Once the details are recorded in a police report, it is more difficult for the other person to change their story. In the event that the police cannot respond, look into filing a report with them after the accident. In some states, it’s required that drivers file a report with the state if the police do not respond.

Finally, drivers should call their insurance company. If the other driver presumed to be at fault, contact his or her insurer, as well.What if a friend wrecks the car?

Students should be aware that they are still liable. Car insurance usually follows the car, not the driver. Parents and students may choose to establish rules about who’s allowed to drive the vehicle. If the student’s vehicle is owned by the parent, it is the parent (not the student) who determines who has permission to drive. The student does not have the right to share a vehicle that he or she does not own. Insurance companies could deny a claim if the permission does not come from the owner of the vehicle.

Some insurance companies are, however, are implementing the “other insurance” clause. This means the owner of the car’s insurance company will turn the claim back to the driver’s company to respond to damage and injury. For an agent, making the clauses clear for customers is imperative in this instance. Regardless of the guidelines parents choose to put in place, students should know the details of their policies. If a friend wrecks the vehicle, the student is still responsible to pay out for any liability claims. If liability limits are exceeded, then the driver and car owner can be liable for expenses that exceed coverage limits.

Conversations between parents, students and their agent

Insurers should know when a student is taking the car to college

Since location can be a factor in determining rates, insurers need to know where the car has been. Encourage parents and student-drivers to share these details with you. If a student takes their parents’ car to college, their policy needs to be up to date noting the change of address. The same is true if a student takes their own vehicle under their own coverage. Depending on the location of the school, insurance rates may go up or down. Parents or students neglect to communicate this information with their insurer, run the risk of a denied insurance claim.

Exploring possible discounts

Some insurance companies offer discounts for students who are away at school. This includes if their university is a significant distance from home. Discounts, may be available to parents and new college students, so it is worth discussing discounts with an agent.


ICBC to file 2014 basic rate application

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

On Friday, August 29th, ICBC will file a basic insurance rate application with the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) asking for a 5.2 per cent increase to basic insurance rates. If the new application is approved this will mean, on average, approximately $3 extra per month for customers.

The need for the change is due to ongoing pressure from increasing injury claims costs, which cover payouts for pain and suffering, future care and loss of wages. ICBC’s bodily injury claims totalled $1.9 billion in 2013 alone – up by $73 million from 2012 and by more than $500 million from just five years ago. The rising number and cost of injury claims is commonly the biggest single factor driving rates for all auto insurers across North America and beyond.

There are various factors contributing to the increasing number of injury claims, including the rapid adoption and use of personal electronic devices behind the wheel. Distracted driving is now the second leading cause of car crash fatalities in B.C., with an average of 88 people killed each year, and the leading cause of rear-end crashes which often result in injuries. ICBC, along with government and police, will be launching a new campaign to educate drivers on this issue in September.

There are also various factors contributing to the increasing cost of injury claims we pay out, including higher legal and medical costs.

The basic insurance rate application will ask BCUC to approve the increase effective November 1 on an interim basis while it reviews the full application.

The proposed 5.2 per cent increase will be in addition to a deferred 0.3 per cent increase directed by the BCUC in last year’s rate decision.*

* In 2013, ICBC applied for a 4.9 per cent increase to basic insurance rates but the final decision from the BCUC approved a 5.2 per cent increase. Their direction was to defer the additional 0.3 per cent into 2014 basic rates.


Learn About Tenant’s Insurance for College Students

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Few parents and even fewer students think about tenant’s insurance when it comes time to ship off to school. This may be a mistake since tenant’s insurance can actually provide a surprisingly high level of coverage for relatively cheap, because of how few claims are made.

What should I look for in a policy?
There are three elements of tenant’s insurance that you should be aware of when you’re comparing policies, according to Laura Adams, MBA in an article for QuickandDirtyTips.com. They are:

1.Personal Property Coverage – This covers the items that your student own and pays to replace them should something happen, like theft, fire or water damage. When you’re considering personal property coverage, you’ll have to calculate the value of the items your child owns. There are two options here: cash value and replacement cost. The former will cover you for the money that you would have received had you sold the item. This means that if you bought an item for $1000 three years ago, you’ll receive the money that you would have gotten by selling it today – significantly less. For a slightly higher premium, you can purchase a policy that covers you for replacement cost. You might still not receive the full $1,000 in this case, but you would receive enough to buy another of the same item.
2.Liability – most renters don’t think about their potential legal liabilities, but this part of a policy is extremely important. If your student accidentally starts a fire, for example, he or she could be liable for the damages to the property. If someone were to get injured on the property, the medical costs could also fall upon your student. A good tenant’s insurance product will cover this liability.
3.Living expenses – not all tenant’s insurance policies cover living expenses in the event that your child cannot live in the property as a result of a claim, but this is also an important element. For example, if water damage were to make so that your student couldn’t live in the unit they rented, a tenant’s insurance policy that included additional living expenses would cover him or her for the extra cost of living somewhere else in the interim.
Additional consideration
In order to make the buying and claims processes easier for tenants, The Insurance Bureau of Canada suggests that your student keep an updated list of possessions. This will help to facilitate the claims process in case something happens, meaning that your student will get their damaged possessions replaced faster. School can be a fast-paced environment, so the faster expensive items like laptops get replaced, the faster he or she can get back to studying.

It is possible that your home insurance policy provides limited coverage for possessions while your student is away at school – in this case the personal property coverage element of a tenant’s insurance policy would be less important. Whether you’re student is covered and for how much he or she is covered varies by insurance provider and policy, so the best thing to do is to check with your insurance representative before your child goes off to school.

The last thing that you want to deal with when your child is going off to school is a potentially stressful financial situation – especially one that can easily be avoided with a little planning. Considering the low cost of tenant’s insurance, it very likely may be the best choice for your family.

Source: Western Direct Insurance


5 insurance facts that all college-bound students need to know

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

For many students living on campus, extra coverage isn’t necessary because the student should be covered under their parents’ homeowners’ policy. But yet, this coverage is dependent on the student still calling mom and dad’s address home.

Keeping the student’s primary residence the same as their parents’ allows most students to remain under their parents’ policies. But yet, agents should encourage parents to talk about their situation. And should double check that their student is still covered.

When it’s time to buy extra coverage…

Although the student is likely covered under their parents’ homeowners’ insurance policy while away at school, additional coverage may be necessary, especially if a student is keeping valuables in their dorm room. Combine the value of these gadgets with the “open door” culture prevalent in most college dorms, it is no surprise that these items are susceptible to theft.

Students bringing expensive equipment to school may want to consider a valuable items endorsement, which can provide blanket coverage for the loss of the valuable items a student may bring along to coverage. While this coverage can add $100 to $120 a year in added cost, the policy is significantly less costly than replacing a stolen or damaged laptop.

Reviewing auto policies can lead to savings

Many colleges restrict underclassmen from bringing a car to campus, which often results in a student’s vehicle sitting in the driveway at home for the majority of the year.

If this is the case, parents should talk to their agents about any possible discounts to minimize the cost of insurance for a vehicle that is barely used.

Alternatively, if a student is taking the family car to college, agents should recommend that parents and students discuss proper protocol should a student be involved in an accident, as well as encourage routine and proper maintenance on the vehicle while away from home.

It gets a little more complex when a student moves off campus

When a student moves out of a dorm and into an off-campus apartment, the situation changes. The student is no longer covered under their parents’ policy, and instead, they need to purchase a renters’ insurance policy to cover items in their rented apartment or house. Renters’ or tenants’ policies can be relatively affordable, and a valuable items endorsement can be added, should a student need additional coverage.

Talking with an agent can bring peace of mind and necessary policy changes

Some parents may have concerns about their coverage options when sending a child to school. Others may be completely unaware that they need to review their policies. Insurance agents should strive to remove any uncertainties for parents as their children leave the nest.

While it may only take a few minutes to ease a parent’s concerns or evaluate their coverage needs.. it will save parents (and students) future grief should anything happen down the road.

Source: PropertyCasualty360.com


Beginner’s Guide to Motorcycle Insurance

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Insuring your bike is a significant expense, and you want to make sure you are getting a competitive rate. Equally important, however, are the details that are involved in the coverage you will arrange. Some rules and guidelines vary between companies, but in general a smaller, less expensive bike will cost less to insure, and so will an older rider. The following general rules tend to be true about bike insurance in Ontario.

Rule number one: Always get an airtight insurance quote before putting money down on a bike. Too often, people find out after buying that sweet bike that was a real deal from a friend’s friend that the insurance cost will be extremely high, or that no insurance company wants to insure it at all. Some bikes are clearly high performance “Sport” bikes that will be expensive or difficult to insure and require a high level of experience and skill to ride. Bikes labeled “Rebuilt” are very difficult and expensive to insure. Be cautious of bikes that have aftermarket frames or engines since these are also red flags to many insurers. Do your homework; educate yourself about the style of bike you are interested in, then find a broker who can explain in detail what the insurance implications are for the parameters you’ve set.

Rule number two: Answer the questions posed by the broker in honest and clear detail. They will check later anyway, so don’t waste your time being evasive or vague. Number of traffic violations, cancellations of previous policies, accidents, other M licensed persons in the household: these and other details are extremely important to determine whether you qualify and how much you will have to pay. If you have had more than one traffic ticket (not including parking tickets) in the past three years, get a copy of your Drivers Abstract at the Ministry of Transportation before getting insurance quotes so that you know exactly what your record is. The Abstract costs about $15.

Rule number three: Remember when you shop for insurance that there are a lot of details to understand, and a good insurance broker will explain things well to you. You need to understand the details, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. There is no “perfect” coverage; the policy that suits you should be personalized. Some people need to have theft coverage on a relatively inexpensive bike in order to feel comfortable, for example. Some people take Collision coverage off their bikes because they have a very tight budget. Beyond comfort level and affordability issues, there are certain limits of coverage that are the minimum that a responsible broker will recommend, such as $1 million liability limit. A good broker will guide you through this decision making process clearly, and will help to ensure you have reached a balance of coverage that fits you.

Rule number four: While the cost of the insurance is obviously important, it’s also very important that you trust your broker and insurance company. Like any professional service that you purchase, you want to ensure that you are dealing with a brokerage that you are comfortable with and that will be there for you if you have questions, problems, or claims. You don’t want to be pressured to bring your car, house, etc., to that broker/agent just so that they will insure your bike. You want them to understand bike insurance; you don’t want to be insured with someone who is hesitant about insuring you, or who has an obvious aversion to motorcycles. If you get conflicting advice from brokers, be patient and make them explain themselves until you are fully satisfied that you understand. You, the customer, must demand nothing less.

Ontario motorcycle riders are required by law to have the following insurance coverages on their motorcycle to get an Ontario plate and to ride legally: Liability, Accident Benefits, Uninsured Automobile and Direct Compensation Property Damage. This is essentially the “basic” coverage that most insurance sales people quote.

The lowest liability limit that you should consider carrying in Ontario is $1 million. The amount of damage that you can do riding a motorcycle is significant, so you want to ensure you are adequately covered.

Accident Benefits covers you for Income Replacement, Medical Rehabilitation, Death and Funeral Expenses, and other things, subject to limits. It is very important to review those limits to confirm whether increasing those limits would be a good idea for you. A good insurance broker will walk you through this issue thoroughly and clearly. It is very important to be aware of these coverage limits at the outset; too often riders discover the limitations of their policies after a significant loss, which is too late.

Loss or Damage coverage for the motorcycle itself is quite straightforward, but again you want to ensure that you are being advised clearly by your broker. If you have financing on your bike, you will be required to have Fire, Theft, and Collision by the bank/lienholder. Ask your broker what the cost difference is if you have higher or lower deductibles; sometimes lower deductibles cost only a little more than higher deductibles, and that is significant if your bike is stolen or written off in an accident.


Top Ten List of the Most-Stolen Vehicles of 2013

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Source: PropertyCasualty360.com

10: Nissan Altima
Thieves swiped just under 8,900 Altimas last year, and model-year 2013 was in demand. The 2013 Altima placed first among model-year 2013 vehicles stolen (810). However, thieves targeted the 1997 Altima (856) and 2012 Altima (834) even more than the 2013 version.

9: Toyota Corolla
Just over 9,000 Corollas were stolen in 2013, with 669 being from the 2013 model year. The Corolla was the fourth most stolen model-year 2013 vehicle, according to NICB.

8: Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee
Over 9,000 Jeep Cherokees were stolen last year, with 2000 being the most popular model year.

7: Dodge Caravan
Just under 11,000 Caravans were stolen last year. Of the top-five model years stolen for this vehicle, four were from 2000 or later. Model-year 2000 was the most popular among thieves.

6: Dodge Pickup (Full Size)
There were just over 11,300 Dodge pickups stolen last year, Like the Ford pickups, the mid-2000s model years are most popular. Model-year 2004 led the way, followed by 2005 and 2003.

5. Toyota Camry
The Toyota Camry remains popular on the most stolen list, and the model years most in demand are from quite a while ago: 1991 followed by 1990. There were over 14,400 Camrys stolen last year, and 429 were from model year 2013.

4. Ford Pickups (Full Size)
Models from the mid-2000s are popular with thieves. There were over 26,000 Ford pickups stolen last year, and the top-four most sought-after model years were, in order, 2006, 2005, 2004 and 2003. The Ford pickup appears third on the list of top stolen model-year 2013 vehicles with thieves swiping 775 last year.

3. Chevrolet Pickups (Full Size)
There were 27,800 Chevy full-size pickups stolen last year. While the most popular model year was 1999 (over 1,800 stolen), the next six most popular model years were all 2000 and later. Thieves stole 472 model-year 2013 Chevy pickups last year.

2. Honda Civic
Honda Civics also remained popular with car thieves, though, like the Accord, thieves mostly stuck to older models. There were over 45,000 Civics stolen last year and nearly 6,000 were from the most popular model year, 1998. The ’97 Civic placed second followed by 2000 models. The 2013 Civic did not appear among the top-25 most stolen model-year 2013 vehicles.

Hondas have remained at the top of the NCIB’s most stolen cars list for nearly a decade.

1. Honda Accord
Nearly 54,000 Accords were stolen in 2013, and most of them 90’s models. The NICB says 276 were from model-year 2013.
The 1996 model was most popular, with over 8,000 stolen, followed by 1994 and 1997 models.


Bumbling Fraudsters

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Source: Coalition Against Insurance Fraud

Insurance swindlers are clever deviants with a criminal’s well-groomed nose for money, some people would believe. Well sometimes true, then sometimes not. Courtrooms are littered with klutzes who couldn’t stay afloat in the fraudster gene pool.

Chiropractor Larry Herman literally launched a run-away insurance crime. The Frederick, Pa. man made a $60,000 claim with USAA for injuries he insisted he suffered in a crash.

Herman wasn’t hurt and barely seemed to care who knew. The supposedly disabled crash victim merrily ran 5K, 10K, half marathons and full marathon races in front of throngs of cheering onlookers. Herman even founded the charity Running Down a Dream, and won the 2006 Lewis Memorial Annual Award from the Frederick Steeplechasers’ Running Club.

He told an employee at his chiro practice to create false treatment records on letterhead for a fake business. Herman told the chiro which medical billing codes to use and created the letterhead template for the false insurance claims. Maybe other runners couldn’t catch Herman, but fraud investigators did. Herman received 5 months in federal prison.

Anything for love

Smooth-talking Derrick Jimerson duped several women into thinking they were his exclusive girlfriends, conned them into setup crash schemes and fooled himself into thinking they wouldn’t find out about each other.

The Las Vegas-area man convinced up to a half-dozen women that he used to play for the Dallas Cowboys. One by one, they fell head over heels for him. Each thought she was Jimerson’s one-and-only.

Then Jimerson sprung the fraud trap. He was in trouble with the IRS and couldn’t buy vehicles himself, he told each swooning lady. They had to make the purchase and buy the car insurance in their own names. Of course they’d help out — anything for love, the ladies all said.

So Jimerson gave each girlfriend the money to buy and insure a vehicle. Next he called his girlfriends to say he was in a crash. Jimerson told them they had to call the insurer because they owned the vehicle and auto policy. He gave each woman fake crash details to spoon feed the insurer. Basically, he told his girlfriend to lie.

A chiro crony then made large and bogus treatment claims. Jimerson figured he’d bought the women’s silence because they’d falsely reported the claims to their auto insurers.

The false crash claims heisted more than $700,000 worth of insurance money. The women eventually were busted, and they dragged Jimerson down with them.

Imagine his girlfriends’ surprise when they all ended up in court together, each thinking she was Jimerson’s true-blue one and only. And imagine Jimerson’s surprise to discover all of his girlfriends fired up and waiting for him in court. Jimerson received nearly 11½ years in prison. No word on the women’s fates.

Too hurt to run spa?

In another “What was I thinking?” moment, Brenda Shuler handed her insurer a wage statement showing $96,000 worth of income after claiming she was too injured to work.

The New Haven, Conn.-area nurse said she twisted her knee and back while trying to keep from falling when a wheelchair-bound resident at the Regency House rammed into Shuler. She went on temporary total disability.

Shuler received more than $282,500 in workers comp money while secretly making a decent living running a spa she owned.

She showed up at a routine workers comp hearing to verify her medical status. Shuler got her paperwork screwed up and handed officials a wage statement showing nearly $100,000 of income from the spa she was supposedly too injured to work at. Busted. The judge was charitable; Shuler’s charges will be dismissed if she completes a 6-month educational rehab program.

Dissed judge for TV show

Ordered to stay close to home after her fraud conviction, Mandi Jackson somehow thought the judge wouldn’t notice when she flew to California and was featured on one of America’s most popular TV programs.

The Rapid City, S.D. woman was on probation for bilking an insurer — crime details unlisted.

The judge warned that her probation required her to stay in-state. So instead Jackson appeared — yes — on the “Dr. Phil Show” to try and save her family. Jackson’s daughter claimed her stepfather had molested her.

Becoming a national discussion item was pretty hard to hide. Small surprise that the judge soon discovered she’d dissed him so brazenly. He called Jackson’s TV appearance “intolerable” and handed her a year in jail.

Ran horse-racing business

Carole Swan was fully disabled and couldn’t function anymore as a rural postal letter carrier, she told the federal workers compensation insurer.

“I do not work, I cannot work. I cannot even clean my own house or blow dry my hair. I cannot ride horses. I cannot have a garden, I cannot play ball with my children,” the Chelsea, Me. woman wrote the insurer in seeking workers comp money. “I cannot go boating. Sometimes I cannot even get meals for my family. I have to have injections for pain and medications. I am left with only injuries that I cannot pay for. This has changed my life.”

Right.

All the while Swan openly worked for her husband’s construction firm, ran a harness horse-racing business, served as a Chelsea politician, and even scrambled down a culvert to inspect a washout while on the job for Chelsea. Swan faces potentially years in federal prison when sentenced.

Which all goes to show that fumbling amateurs belong in the shallow end of the cheater’s gene pool.


Scams on the rise in 2014

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

A new scam is on the rise which targets restaurant owners and their customers, according to the latest data from Financial Fraud Action UK, a payments industry body.

But this scam is just one of many reported each year. We asked the fraud body about other scams on the rise.

Some have been around for a few years with criminals finding these are the most effective – and are therefore increasingly using them. These are the top five with advice on how to protect yourself against being duped on each.

“Vishing”

Vishing is a type of fraud which takes place over the phone. Fraudsters call up consumers, and attempt to lure them into giving their bank security details over the phone, including their PIN. The scam typically involves a fraudster suggesting they are from your bank, and that there is a problem on your account. They may also ask you to call your bank to confirm, where in fact they stay on the line and continue their deception. There are variations on this scam where fraudsters deceive the victim into transferring money from their account to one which is accessible to the fraudster.

Prevention advice:

• Be wary of unsolicited approaches by phone and cold callers who suggest you hang up the phone and call them back. Fraudsters can keep your phone line open by not putting down the receiver at their end.

• Never disclose your four digit card PIN to anyone, including the bank or police, any full password or online banking codes, or personal details unless you are sure who you are talking to.

Deception thefts

Losses due to fraud on lost or stolen cards increased by 7pc to £58.9m from £55.2m in 2012, with distraction thefts in shops and bars and shoulder surfing at ATMs highlighted. Shoulder surfing involves a fraudster looking over someone’s shoulder as they enter their PIN at an ATM, and then distract them when the card is ejected, stealing the card in the process. Once they have your card and PIN the fraudster uses them to spend your money.

Prevention advice:

• Always shield the keypad with your free hand and your body to avoid anyone seeing you enter your PIN. This will protect your PIN from anyone who might be looking over your shoulder, and also help to keep your PIN safe if a fraudster has set up a hidden camera filming the keypad.

• Be alert and put your personal safety first. If someone is crowding or watching you, cancel the transaction and go to another machine. Do not accept help from seemingly well-meaning strangers and never allow yourself to be distracted.

• If you spot anything unusual about the cash machine, or there are signs of tampering, do not use it. Report it to the bank concerned immediately.

• Once you have completed a transaction put your money and card away before leaving the cash machine. Destroy or preferably shred your cash machine receipts, mini-statements or balance enquiries when you dispose of them.

Malware

Malware is malicious software which is unknowingly downloaded on to a computer and which then enables fraudsters to steal personal or financial information or perform unauthorised actions on the device. It is believed criminals are using these stolen details to commit fraud by targeting those online retailers which have not yet adopted security measures put in place by more established firms.

Prevention advice:

• Ensure you have the most up-to-date security software installed on your computer, including antivirus. Some banks offer free security software: check your bank’s website for details.

• Only shop on secure websites. Before entering card details ensure that the locked padlock or unbroken key symbol is showing in your browser.

• Always be suspicious of unsolicited emails that are supposedly from a reputable organisation, such as your bank or the tax office and do not click on any links in the email.

Courier fraud

A fraudster rings you, claiming to be from your bank, saying their systems have spotted a fraudulent payment on your card or that your card is due to expire and needs replacing. You may be asked to ring back using the phone number on the back of your card – which further convinces you the call is genuine. However, the criminal keeps the line open at their end so, when you make the call, you are unknowingly connected straight back to the fraudster.

Then, by seeming to offer assistance, the fraudster tries to gain your trust. In most cases you are asked to “cancel” your existing card or “activate” or “authorise” a replacement card by keying your PIN into your phone’s handset. The fraudster then poses as a bank representative to pick up your card from your home, sometimes giving you a replacement card, which is a fake. In some cases a genuine courier company is hired to pick up the card, which the victim has been asked to place into an envelope.

Once they have your card and PIN the fraudster uses them to spend your money.

Prevention advice:

• Never hand over your card: Your bank or the police will never ring you to tell you they are coming to your home to pick up your card. Never hand it over to anyone who comes to collect it.

• Never share your PIN: Your bank will never ask you to authorise anything by entering your PIN into the telephone. Never share your PIN with anyone.

• Always speak to the bank securely: Before calling your bank, make sure you can hear the dial tone. Only ever call your bank on an advertised number.

Money mules

Criminals dupe ordinary people into thinking they are an employer. They may offer jobs, involving receiving money into your bank account and transferring it to another account, and keeping some for yourself. This is money laundering, a criminal activity which can lead to a prison sentence of up to ten years. The jobs may be called “money transfer agents”.

Prevention advice:

• Be very cautious of unsolicited emails promising opportunities to make easy money.

• Verify any company that makes you a job offer and check their contact details (address, landline phone number, email address and website) are correct and whether they are registered in the UK.

• Be especially wary of job offers from people or companies overseas as it will be harder for you to find out if they really are legitimate.

• Never give your bank account details to anyone unless you know and trust them