Massive auto scheme is warning to consumers

Insurers warn consumers about protecting themselves from fraud scams

OCTOBER 8, NEW YORK (10/08/2014)(readMedia)-- The criminal conviction of a New York doctor who participated in a massive automobile insurance ring should serve as a reminder that drivers in the Empire State are paying much more for insurance than they should because of rampant fraud.

The large number of such scams operating in the state also is a reminder that consumers should protect themselves from scams and be alert for medical fraud schemes, according to the New York Alliance Against Insurance Fraud (NYAAIF).

A jury in Brooklyn on Friday convicted Dr. Tatyana Gabinskaya of colluding with a Russian gang that filed nearly $300 million in bogus medical claims for treatment under the state's no-fault auto insurance system. She faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced.

Dozens of such criminal enterprises are operating in New York. They are draining insurance money from the no-fault system, causing ever-increasing costs of automobile insurance and putting innocent motorists at risk of injury or death in staged crashes, according to NYAAIF. Motorist and grandmother Alice Ross died when she was targeted in a staged crash that was botched in Queens several years ago.

Consumers can protect themselves and help prevent fraud:

Watch out for drivers who attempt to maneuver innocent motorists into auto crashes.

Never tailgate. Allow plenty of space between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you. If you're in an accident, count how many passengers are in the other car. Get names, phone numbers and driver's license.

• After a crash, be leery if someone at the scene tries to steer you to a specific clinic for treatment.

If you are injured and receive medical treatment:

• Keep detailed records of treatments you receive. Include dates, locations, who provided the treatments and what services you received. Also record what medicine, supplies or equipment were provided.

• Carefully review the billing and summary statements you receive after treatment. Are the treatment dates, doctor name(s), facility locations and medical services the same as you remember? Know what medical equipment and supplies your provider ordered, as well.

• Never sign blank insurance claim forms.

• Avoid door-to-door or telephone salespeople who offer you free medical services or equipment.

Consumers who suspect medical providers or others of committing insurance fraud can call the New York Frauds Bureau at 888-FRAUD NY or 888-372-8369 or visit the agency online at insurance/frauds/fd7repoc.htm.

NYAAIF is an alliance of more than 100 insurance companies in New York. NYAAIF was created in 1999 to educate consumers about the cost of fraud and help consumers avoid becoming victims. For more information, visit