Last updated on May 16, 2017 at 02:42 pm
Picture this: You’re driving down a road in the right-hand lane minding your own business. A car in the passing lane cruises by and cuts over to your lane, while another car approaches on your left and matches your speed. You’re boxed in. Suddenly, the driver in front of you slams on the brakes. With no room for a preventive swerve and inadequate space to stop behind the car in front of you, your car hits the rear-end of the car in front of you.
You’ve just fallen victim to the “Swoop and Stop,” a common example of staged accidents organized by dishonest individuals or crime rings for the purpose of filing false car insurance claims. These fraudulent tactics are dangerous, frustrating, and ultimately expensive for auto insurance customers who bear the brunt of increasing insurance costs. You can help protect yourself from four common accident scams by knowing the criminal’s tactics and how to deal with the aftermath if you suspect fraud.
Common Staged Accidents
Always be alert and mindful of the following possible scenarios behind the wheel:
- The Swoop and Stop (a.k.a. the Swoop and Squat): As described in the example above, a vehicle suddenly cuts in front of you and jams on the brakes. In some cases, a second car will box you in from your left.
- The Wave: A driver will give you a courtesy wave to signal that you can pull out of a parking spot, merge, or pass ahead of his/her car. When you attempt to make the maneuver, the other driver will gun the gas, cause a collision, and deny ever giving you the wave.
- The Sideswipe: A driver will repeatedly visit a two-lane turn at a busy intersection waiting for a car in the inner lane to drift to the outer lane. If you slightly drift, the driver in the outer lane will deliberately ram your car.
- The T-Bone: A driver will wait for you to proceed through a four-way stop and then accelerate to strike the side of your car. Phony witnesses will claim you ran the stop sign.
Dealing with a Staged Accident
If you are involved in an accident, follow these tips courtesy of the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud:
- Call the police. No matter how minor the damage may seem, get a police report.
- Take photos. Use your cell phone or another camera to document the vehicles, license plates, passengers, and damage.
- Take notes. Count passengers involved and get their names, phone numbers, and any other information they will offer.
- Never settle on site with cash. Report the accident to your auto insurance company, and be sure to express any suspicions you may have.
If you suspect a staged accident scam or any form of insurance fraud, please report your concerns as soon as possible by calling the Plymouth Rock in NJ anonymous tip line at 855-FRAUDNJ.