How to Avoid the 5 Most Common ‘Staged Accident’ Scams

The Federal Bureau of Investigations estimates that staged accidents cost the insurance industry over $20 billion every year, and adds nearly $300 to your annual insurance premium. How do you avoid becoming a victim?

Scammers typically target women driving alone, and senior citizens, under the assumption they will be less confrontational at the accident scene. Scammers will also intentionally choose more expensive vehicles.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) lists 5 common staged accident scenarios:

  •  DRIVE DOWN (or THE WAVE IN)
    The victim merges his vehicle into traffic, after having been motioned by the seemingly helpful criminal. As the innocent driver begins to merge, the criminal speeds up and causes a collision. When questioned, the criminal denies motioning the victim to merge.
  • PANIC STOP
    The criminal is typically driving an older vehicle filled with passengers. The criminal pulls in front of the victim’s vehicle, and a backseat passenger in the criminal’s car watches for the victim to be distracted by something. Once the victim appears distracted, the backseat passenger tells the driver to slam on the brakes, causing the innocent motorist to rear-end the criminal’s vehicle. The victim’s insurance company then typically must pay for vehicle damage and any injuries the criminal’s passengers claim to suffer.
  • SIDE SWIPE
    This type of crash typically occurs at a busy intersection with dual left-turn lanes. The criminal positions his vehicle in the other lane, and side swipes the car in the inner left-turn lane.
  • SWOOP-AND-SQUAT
    This typically involves three vehicles, two driven by criminals and the third by an innocent victim. The driver of the “squat” vehicle pulls in front of the victim’s car. The driver of the “swoop” vehicle pulls in front of the squat vehicle, causing the driver of the squat vehicle to hit his brakes. The victim cannot react in time and rear-ends the squat vehicle. The victim then typically is responsible for any vehicle damage and personal injury to passengers in the squat vehicle.
  • ADDING DAMAGE
    After a collision, staged or not, the scammer goes to another location, causes extensive damage to their vehicle and claims the damage happened during the original accident.

How do you avoid getting scammed? 

In these situations, your phone is your friend: use your phone’s camera to document the damage on your car and the other vehicle, as well as the number of passengers in the other vehicle.

  • Avoid tailgating.
  • Immediately call the police to an accident scene.
  • Avoid “runners” and “cappers” – people who suddenly appear at an accident scene to try to direct you to particular doctors and attorneys, as they are typically part of the criminal scheme.
  • Be wary of physicians who insist you file a personal injury claim after an accident, especially if you are not hurt.
  • Steer clear of tow trucks that appear when you have not called for service, as they are often “cappers” for body shops.

Find More Driving Tips at Rich Nimey’s New Generation Cars

We hope these tips have been helpful and informative. If you’re looking for any more assistance on the road, check out our blog for more tips and tricks. For those looking for a great used vehicle or any car service, stop in to Rich Nimey’s New Generation Cars for help. You can contact us by phone or in person. Our sales team is happy and ready to help you with all of your automotive needs!