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Thinking about unloading your unwanted vehicle for an illicit insurance payout in San Diego County? Ducking paying full workers-comp premiums?
“Don’t do it. Don’t tolerate it. Report it.” That’s the stiff medicine of deterrent ads saturating San Diego County in September and October.
Summer Stephan is the county’s DA. She’s rocketing the blunt messages throughout California’s second-largest county — a teaming mini-state of more than 4,500 square miles and 3.3 million residents.
The warnings speak in English and Spanish. They’re flaring out from 100 billboards on high-trafficked roads, plus 700 posters on busses and trollies. Another 12,000 public-service announcements are airing 29 TV stations, also in English and Spanish.
It’s the most-concentrated deterrent anti-fraud comp blitz that San Diego County has ever mounted. The DA’s hotline is getting up to 25 phone tips a day — a 500-percent increase.
Preventing fraud crimes costs a lot less than prosecuting, the DA reasons.
Especially worrisome are drivers who want to get rid of unwanted vehicles with false theft claims. The county shares the border with Mexico. Drivers sell or dump their vehicles in Tijuana, then tell their insurer that somebody stole the vehicle inside the county.
Smaller businesses also are trying to illegally avoid paying full workers-comp premiums. They’re lowering their premiums by lying that their payrolls are smaller than they really are — or saying that employees in higher-risk jobs such as roofing are merely desk clerks or sales staff.
Stout warnings can convince drivers and small-business owners to avoid scams, DA Stephan believes. Most are average consumers. These are normally honest people — opportunists and soft-core cheaters. These amateur fraudsters comprise about half of the people the DA prosecutes for auto and workers-comp scams … a large and reachable population.
Deterring softer fraudsters frees up the DA to prosecute street-hardened career schemers who are impervious to ad messages. These are the heads of crash rings, or larger businesses that steal millions by vastly underpaying workers-comp premiums.