NYPD stings no-fault crash con

By James Quiggle
January 13, 2014

imageAfter plundering millions of insurance dollars, a historically greedy staged-crash ring is fracturing like a clay jug as lieutenants and field bosses are carted off to jail cells.

The mammoth ploy stole with staggering efficiency. The extensively Russian-run operation tried to heist more than $400 million in fake injury claims from setup crashes in the New York City area.

That’s the largest attempted pilfering of no-fault insurance money in history, prosecutors say. Insurance thievery such as this is a big reason honest New York drivers pay some of America’s highest auto premiums. A well-constructed sting took down the history-making ring and a key operative, attorney Sol Naimark.

Naimark’s job was to sue, or threaten to sue, auto insurers over false injury claims from real and setup car wrecks. This made him a big money-maker for the cartel and an indispensable ring member.

imageAt least 25 ring members have been convicted. Dozens overall have been charged, including at least 10 doctors and three lawyers. 

As prosecutors describe the hyper-steroidal fraud factory:

Surrounding Naimark was a vast network of swindlers. The cartel was run by a handful of shadowy overseers, mostly Russian-Americans. They cunningly exploited the state’s no-fault auto law, which requires insurers to pay claims promptly.

Ambulance-chasing street recruiters often tracked down crash victims at the accident scenes or hospitals. The recruiters promised the victims easy cash for letting the gang use their auto policies to lodge large and inflated claims. Other patients were recruited off the streets as pretend passengers in staged wrecks.

Overall, the ring recruited thousands of people. The recruiters hauled in good money — $2,000-$3,000 for every patient they brought in.

A gulag of 100 phony medical clinics was staffed by corrupt doctors and other medical practitioners who illegally rented out their licenses. They became straw owners to make the sham clinics look real.

“The clinics handed out factory-line treatments and billed auto insurance for worthless whiplash treatments and pretend pain. Soft-tissue injuries don’t show up on X-rays and are hard for insurers to challenge.”The clinics handed out factory-line treatments and billed auto insurance for worthless whiplash treatments and pretend pain. Soft-tissue injuries don’t show up on X-rays and are hard for insurers to challenge.

Doctors prescribed the same template treatments for nearly every patient they saw. Patients received needless and inflated physical therapy, acupuncture and chiro treatments up to five times a week.

Crooked testing labs and medical-supply firms were part of the shady network. Doctors prescribed needless MRIs, X-rays, orthopedics and medical supplies. Everyone got kickbacks as insurance money flowed through the gang — patient recruiters, patients, clinic controllers, docs and others.

Even audiologists even found a way to bill auto insurers. And a pediatrician somehow decided she was qualified to interpret MRIs, prosecutors say.

The ring needed three billing firms just to process the voluminous insurance paperwork. The money spigot financed plenty of bling for the ring’s upper echelons: vacations in Mexico and Atlantic City, expensive jewelry, limos and other baubles.

But NYPD cops — aided by NICB and the FBI — went underground. The investigators received the same template treatment. Their evidence was key to breaking open the ring.

In the end, prosecutors found plenty of fault with this no-fault crime ring.

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