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Staged car wreck rings in Oklahoma City draw group's attention

National Insurance Crime Bureau investigators are discovering more staged car crash rings across the country, including at least two in the Oklahoma City area.

BY MICHAEL KIMBALL Modified: May 17, 2010 at 11:17 am •  Published: May 17, 2010

Two apparent staged car wreck rings in the Oklahoma City area could echo a growing national trend in insurance fraud, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

The bureau warned this month that schemes involving staged wrecks and false insurance claims are on the rise, pointing to investigations in California, New York and Florida. Insurance crime bureau Special Agent Mark Wenthold in Oklahoma City said local insurance fraud investigators have presented evidence to prosecutors for possible charges in two cases here.

Staged accidents can involve only the people in on the scheme or target innocent victims, Wenthold said. Potential fraudsters typically claim injuries from the wreck to drive up the insurance windfall.

One of the rings under recent investigation in Oklahoma City involved the same people and the same cars over and over again, Wenthold said.

In the other, a group of people who Wenthold said travel the country to perpetrate the scheme would rent a U-Haul truck and smash it into a large sport utility vehicle, which they would later claim was full of people injured in the collision.

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HOW TO HELP
Authorities ask anyone with information about staged accidents or insurance fraud to call the NICB at (800) 835-6422, go to the NICB website at www.nicb.org or text "fraud” and the information to TIP411 on a cell phone. Tipsters may remain anonymous.

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