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Social Media & Insurance Fraud

People May Lie .....

A man in Ohio claimed that he was too badly injured to work, and as a result, collected $30,000 in benefits. Facebook photos that he posted, however, led investigators to his gym, where undercover cameras captured footage of the man bench-pressing five hundred pounds.[1]

An Arizona woman filed an insurance claim for her wedding ring, which she claimed she lost while swimming in the ocean. Subsequently, a Facebook showed her wearing the very same ring after the date she claimed the loss, and she pled guilty to insurance fraud.[2]

A million-dollar Bugatti sports car drives along a bay in Texas, and a bystander videos it as runs off the road into a marsh, leaving it flooded and ruined. The driver claimed it was an accident, though a YouTube video posted by the bystander was later used by the insurance company to prove intentional insurance fraud. As it turned out, the million dollar car had recently been insured by the owner for two million, just prior to the “accident”. [3]

A police officer in New York was collecting disability, and had claimed his right arm was injured so badly that he could barely move it. Insurance investigators later found footage of that same officer touring with his punk rock band, and fist-pumping wildly with that same right arm.[4]

What do all of these scenarios have in common? If you said that all of them are examples of insurance fraud, you’d be correct. Beyond that, though, they all share another common thread – the insurance fraud was uncovered through evidence found on social media.

 

The Numbers Don’t.

As of January 2019, the total world population was estimated to be at 7.7 billion people. Of that number, an estimated 4.2 billion use the internet, of which 3.4 billion use social media, spending an average of 116 minutes a day doing so. Facebook has an average of 800 billion daily video views, as does Snapchat. It is estimated that 68% of Americans use Facebook, and approximately 500,000 new users are added daily. Twitter has a total of 1.3 billion accounts, and there are approximately 500 million tweets made each day[5]. These numbers are astounding, and will only continue to grow.

Now, to turn to some other numbers - Numbers regarding the astounding number of fraudulent insurance claims that occur each year. The cost of false and fraudulent claims is estimated to be nearly $80 billion a year. $80 billion. An Insurance Journal survey of US consumers titled "Insurance Fraud: A Public View, 2013 Edition," indicated that 24 percent of those surveyed believed it was acceptable to pad an insurance claim to make up for a deductible.

  • 18 percent believed it acceptable to pad a claim to make up for premiums paid in the past;
  • 55 percent said that poor service from an insurer is more likely to cause fraudulent behavior;
  • 76 percent said they are more likely to commit fraud during an economic downturn; and
  • 68 percent said they believe insurance fraud happens because people believe they can get away with it.

The statistics gathered by the National Insurance Crime Bureau seem to bear out the results of the survey. The Bureau estimates that at least 10 percent of all U.S. property and casualty insurance claims are fraudulent. Workers’ compensation fraud alone is estimated to cost insurers as much as $5 billion annually, and each year an estimated $80 billion is stolen by fraudulent claims across all insurance lines. To put this in perspective, an estimated $1 of every $10 paid in property and casualty insurance losses is paid on a fraudulent claim[6]. These numbers make it clear that insurance fraud is a widespread practice that doesn’t look as if it will be going away anytime soon.

 

The New Age of Evidence Collection

As an insurer, or as an insurance defense firm, why should all of these numbers and statistics regarding social media usage and insurance fraud matter? The answer is simple. The two go hand-in-hand. As the above scenarios clearly indicate, social media is truly revolutionizing fraud investigation, and is becoming increasingly helpful in solving some of the most difficult cases. The continued rise of social media will only increase the amount of information available to investigators, insurers and insurance defense firms seeking to identify and disprove fraudulent insurance claims.

As a result, capturing the evidence available on social media in the most efficient and effective way possible is becoming urgently important to those insurers and firms who wish to stay ahead of the curve. Those who can do so – who can use all of the evidence found on social media to their advantage in a cost-efficient way – will obtain a key competitive advantage in the industry.

Social media evidence can be particularly valuable in helping insurers to defend against claims in a wide variety of scenarios – auto accident, personal injury, workers’ compensation, or property claims just to name a few. Using social media evidence is often a much more cost-effective method than many other traditional forms of investigation. The amount that some firms and insurers pay to private investigators who are literally required to hide in the bushes, or trail a claimant for hours on end to catch them doing things they said they couldn’t can be astounding. And in today’s age of social media, it’s often unnecessary.

While these older, more traditional methods of investigation are sometimes successful and occasionally still necessary in certain unique situations, obtaining evidence in this manner can be both expensive and, on occasion, dangerous. Today, the most cost-efficient, and often the most effective way of gathering evidence – for firms, insurers, and investigators alike - is to gather it online. The question then, is how best to do it?

 

Why WebPreserver?

Some firms and insurance companies attempt to gather social media evidence themselves, by using manual screenshots and a written affidavit for purposes of meeting the appropriate standards of authentication. Others outsource their evidence collection requests to a third-party provider that is not on site. There are multiple risks to these approaches. The first, is that the evidence in question is often deleted as quickly as it is posted. It is not at all uncommon for someone to make a post on social media, and then only days, or even moments later, regret the post and delete it. When you outsource your evidence collection you necessarily incur a delay in obtaining the evidence you need. In the meantime, your valuable evidence could disappear altogether.

The same can be said of screenshots. Rarely is it only one Screenshot or one page that a court considers. More often than not, a multitude of pages or posts may be required. Such methods can easily become expensive, time-consuming, and tedious, particularly when adjusting a number of claims and attempting to do it efficiently. While you are attempting to scroll and capture shot after shot, evidence could be disappearing, and you’re losing valuable time. This is not to mention the authentication concerns and increased scrutiny of screenshots in courtrooms across the country. As hundreds of published opinions across the country each year clearly indicate, courts are increasingly relying upon social media evidence as a valid and important evidentiary source in denying fraudulent claims. Courts expect such evidence to be authenticated, readily made available, and organized. When gathered effectively, that evidence can make the critical difference in getting fraudulent claims dismissed. WebPreserver can help you to ensure that your evidence meets those standards, in an efficient, cutting-edge, cost-effective manner.

WebPreserver presents investigators, attorneys, and insurers with the most cutting-edge evidence capture technology at a cost-effective price. What you would spend on a service like WebPreserver would be only a fraction of what a full investigation of a more traditional nature might cost. The potential exists to save thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars – or more, as cases where social media evidence is critical only continue to increase. WebPreserver enables subscribers to avoid needless expenditure of their time, and to save money on costs that would otherwise be incurred by endless copying, printing, and organization of a significant amount of digital content.

Webpreserver can collect the data you need at any time, at any location, in just seconds. If you can gain access to it, using our service you can collect it with just one click. Websites, blogs, social media, chat forums, video and audio files – the WebPreserver plugin can collect them all in their native formats, and also in a variety of forensically sound export formats.

Give us a call today to get started successfully denying the fraudulent claims that come your way.


[1] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/investigators-combing-social-media-to-expose-insurance-scams/
[2] Id.
[3] Id.
[4] Id.
[5] https://www.brandwatch.com/blog/amazing-social-media-statistics-and-facts/
[6] http://www.insurancefraud.org/statistics.htm#.V1HXcE1wW71

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