THREE Lower Mainland residents have been fined a total of $5,000 plus jail time after being found guilty of making fraudulent injury claims from a crash two of them were never even involved in.
Thai Yuen (Lisa) Vo, her sister Michelle Vo and friend Ryan Rillo all claimed they were injured in a crash while exiting a parking lot at a Surrey gas station in June 2013. As ICBC’s claims adjusters took a closer look, the stories didn’t add up and ICBC’s Special Investigation Unit (SIU) was brought in. Upon further inspection, SIU found these significant inconsistencies:
* Passengers involved: Lisa, Ryan and Michelle, all of adult age, claimed they were each injured in the crash. However, according to the other driver involved in the collision, Lisa was driving the vehicle with two child passengers.
* Bridge crossings: The guilty parties said the vehicle crossed the Port Mann Bridge four times claiming Lisa picked Michelle and Ryan up from Coquitlam, drove to Surrey for lunch where they were involved in a crash, returned to Coquitlam afterwards to drop off the two passengers and then Lisa drove home to Surrey. However, video footage from the Port Mann Bridge confirmed the vehicle only went over the bridge twice – once westbound and once eastbound – hours before the crash.
* Time of the crash: Michelle and Ryan reported the crash occurred at 5 p.m., however, video surveillance at the gas station confirmed the crash took place just after 6 p.m. Further, evidence confirmed Michelle was working in Coquitlam when all this occurred and didn’t get off work until 7 p.m.
* Cellphone records: Cellphone records were obtained and showed Lisa and Michelle spoke minutes after the crash which was interesting evidence given they both claimed to be in the vehicle together. The records also confirmed Lisa was in the Surrey area hours before the collision.
The judge declared the defendants lacked credibility, and since the trio could not explain their story’s discrepancies, the judge accepted the Crown’s case in criminal court. All three were charged under section 42.1 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act and found guilty of insurance fraud by “a passenger jump-in scheme” – a commonly-used term to describe either a literal or figurative addition of passengers who were not actually involved in a collision. Ryan was fined $2,000, Lisa was fined $1,000 plus one day in jail, and Michelle was given a $2,000 fine and one day in jail. No monies were paid out on the claims for bodily injuries.
In 2014 alone, ICBC paid out more than $2 billion in bodily injury claims – up by more than $600 million from just five years ago. While the number of crashes in B.C. is relatively stable, ICBC is receiving more injury claims every year with more people reporting injury claims from approximately the same number of crashes.
While the vast majority of customers are honest, fraudulent claims hurt everyone by putting pressure on claims costs. Investigating and preventing fraud is one way we help keep claims costs and insurance rates down.
The public can help prevent fraud by reporting suspicious, exaggerated or fraudulent claims or other activities to ICBC’s fraud tips line at 604-661-6844 or 1-800-661-6844, toll-free in B.C. Tip information is confidential and callers can remain anonymous.