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Philadelphia “Professional Claimant” Charged with Insurance Fraud

According to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, Philadelphia native, Sandra McCrea, was arrested on charges of attempted theft by deception and insurance fraud following alleged injuries she sustained while on a SEPTA bus on August 29th, 2011.


The bus was stopped at the intersection of Greene Street and School House Lane in Philadelphia, PA when the driver’s side mirror was struck by a truck. There was no police or paramedic response. The bus operator had the damage appraised, and in writing her report, stated that the damage included only minor scratches to the mirror frame and none of the passengers appeared or claimed to be injured.


McCrea decided she would submit a personal injury claim against SEPTA with help from counsel, anyway, stating that she sustained injuries to her lower back, right shoulder, and right knee during the incident.


According to detectives, McCrea did seek physical therapy treatment for these “injuries” between September and November of 2011. But according to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, “Surveillance footage from the Route XH bus contradicts McCrea’s claim and establishes that although a white truck did make contact with the exterior mirror of the bus, none of the twenty-one passengers appeared to be injured or disturbed in any way.”


On top of that, McCrea originally submitted the fraudulent claim under a fake name and address. Why? Because her claims history is VAST. She has filed over ten personal injury claims against SEPTA alone, totaling approximately $100,000 in settlements.





Springing Forward Causes Increase in Workplace Injuries

Theatlantic.com reported a 2009 study completed by Christopher M. Barnes and David T. Wagner of Michigan State in the Journal of Applied Psychology. The two men looked at 576,292 injuries sustained in the mining industry between the years of 1983 and 2006.


Mondays are rough for most of us, and on any given Monday, the study found that coal miners reported an average of approximately 63 on-the-job injuries.


However, the dreadful Monday after “springing forward” results in 40 minutes less sleep, on average, for most Americans. And Barnes and Wagner saw the on-the-job injuries increase by 3.6 injuries, or 5.7 percent, on the Monday after DST. Not only were there more injuries, but the severity of the injuries increased. “The number of days missed due to an injury on the post-DST Monday rose by 67.6 percent compared with average workplace injuries,” according to the report.


Many studies have been conducted to find the correlation between lack of sleep and productivity/negligence/errors/etc.


The Monday after Daylight Savings Time even comes with an increased risk for auto accidents, according to other studies. However, it is unclear whether this increase stems from fatigue or changes in lighting during the commute.


There are preventative measures to be taken to help avoid workplace hazards. But according to Theatlantic.com, “Even those measures won’t help what are surely the implications of the researchers’ findings: Fatigue on any day means greater risk for workers. It just happens that it’s on the day when everyone is tired together that we can see, statistically, the consequences.”


Did you see a spike in workplace injuries after springing forward? Let us know!




Basic Internet Principle: Your IP Address has a Geographic Location

Having an IP Address is internet protocol. And if you don’t block it when you’re browsing the web or your email provider doesn’t strip it from your outgoing mail, it can be traced back to your computer.

It is imperative to know the difference between a static IP Address and a dynamic IP Address. A static IP address never changes; it’s fixed. A dynamic IP address ALWAYS CHANGES and is recommended if you’d prefer to stay anonymous. However, both static and dynamic IP addresses can be traced back to your geographic location.

Your IP address is embedded into emails. Say you’re working with a witness or a client and you can’t figure out their location. If you have been emailing back and forth, ICU can use the header of a specific email to possibly identify the IP address associated with that specific computer.

Note: Gmail strips the IP from the header.

We then use our investigative proprietary databases and resources to conduct a location search, ultimately giving us geographical coordinates. By placing these geographical coordinates into Google Maps and Bing Maps, we are left with an actual, physical address.

We now have a new avenue to search for a claimant!

Suspicious? Get Answers with ICU!

5 Easy Ways to Get Hacked

David Pogue of Yahoo Tech lays down 5 of the easiest ways to compromise your information online. We all think, “Oh, it’ll never happen to me.” Well it can. And we want you to protect yourself and your identity by taking a proactive approach to security, because the consequences can be severe.


Here’s what to do if you want to get hacked:


1. Make your password, “password.”

Believe it or not, the word “password” was the #1 most common for years, but has more recently been surpassed by “123456.” You may also choose passwords such as “qwerty,” “iloveyou,” or “abc123″ if you want your information compromised, as well.


But to avoid hackers, Pogue suggests using something like this: “For example, you can compose a password from the initials of a fun phrase, like the delicious password “29gofiabm.” (That, of course, stands for ’29 grams of fat in a Big Mac.’)”


2. Repeat your passwords

Use the same password (“password”) for your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Yahoo, eBay, Gmail, online banking, Amazon, and credit card log in. Go for it. Once the hacker guesses that your password is “password”, he or she is in every account you own.


Making your passwords more complex and varying them slightly is the obvious way to avoid this situation, but Pogue also suggests “installing a free password-management program like Dashlane or (for Apple products) iCloud Keychain.” These programs set the passwords for you and store them, without you having to memorize them!


3. Don’t use your cell phone number as a security measure.

Most people think giving up their cell phone numbers as a security measure on trusted sites such as Facebook, Gmail, Yahoo, etc. is actually compromising their cell phone number. It’s not…and here’s why.


There are three important security reasons that they ask you to provide your cell phone number for.


First, if you’re trying to reset your password because you forgot it or you just wish to change it, the alert will be sent to your phone immediately. You’ll know right then and there if someone may be trying to log in to your account if it wasn’t you trying to reset the password in the first place.


Second, the company will be able to alert you via text instantaneously if there is a company hacking issue or if you will be locked out of your account for security reasons and how to proceed.


And third, Pogue says, “some websites, including Google, Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo Mail, offer an optional, super-hyper-secure feature called two-factor authentication. That user-hostile term means this: ‘The first time you log into your account from a new gadget, you have to enter a code that the company sends to you on your cell phone.’ In other words, hackers using their own computers can never get into your accounts unless they also have your phone.”


In essence, it’s not a bad practice to let trusted sites use your cell phone number as a means to alert you for security reasons. It can save you much aggravation in the long run.


4. When a bank, PayPal, eBay, etc. emails you to inform you of problems with your account, go ahead and click the link to log in.

Trust us, you won’t be able to decipher which emails are legitimate and which ones are not. Fake emails have been circulating from banks, PayPal, eBay, Amazon, and countless others, telling “customers” that there are issues with account information, maybe that you need to update it, etc.


To get hacked, all you have to do is click the link, log in with your username and password, and voila! Hackers now have the username and password that you use to log in to that specific site.


When in doubt, open up your browser and log in to your account the usual way or pick up the phone and call to ensure that your account is normal, and totally bypass/delete the email altogether.


5. Pay for a “tech agency” to get access to your account.

Pogue states that no legitimate, big-name site such as Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, etc. will ever take money for technical support. Unfortunately, bogus “help” sites do.


These sites act as tech agencies and charge fees to help fix your accounts. And sometimes, people think it’s easier to pay someone to fix it for you and avoid all of the hassle. In all actuality, you just gave up your personal information.





Brutal Winter Costs $1.5 Billion in Insured Losses (and it’s not over yet)

Jim Puzzanghera of The Los Angeles Times reports that this brutal winter of heavy snow and arctic blasts has resulted in $1.5 billion in insurance losses across the country, thus making this winter one of the most expensive in decades for the insurance industry.


The Insurance Information Institute released a report using claims data from Verisk Analytics with the details of the damages, which includes, “175,000 claims paid to policyholders for damages such as collapsed roofs, burst pipes, downed tree limbs and auto accidents from Jan. 1 through Friday (Feb. 21).”


From an economic standpoint, businesses have been influenced with unexpected closures, supply chains have been disrupted, and job growth has been slowed.


Claims from two of the four major winter storms to hit in 2014 have been paid, placing this year at 6th on the list of most expensive winters since 1980, according to the report. But once the claims from the two other storms (and any storms yet to come) are paid and factored in, 2014 will surely be in the top five on that list.


The report also states that hurricanes and tropical storms come in first on the list of costly types of natural disasters with 40% of all insured catastrophe losses from 1993 to 2012, tornadoes are second with 36%, and severe winter weather in third with 7.1%.





PA sees a 24% Increase in Insurance Fraud Convictions

Claims Journal reports that the Pennsylvania Insurance Fraud Prevention Authority has compiled fraud statistics that concluded suspected insurance fraud referrals have increased by 9% in 2013, in turn creating a 24% increase in criminal convictions.


According to Ralph Burnham, executive director of the Insurance Fraud Prevention Bureau:


  • Workers’ compensation referrals increased 7%
  • Auto insurance fraud referrals increased 9%
  • Homeowners’ and renters insurance increased 12%
  • Total amount of restitution, fines and penalties defendants were required to pay have increased 26%
  • 408 arrests and 37 assisted arrests in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies were reported by the Insurance Fraud Bureaus in Pennsylvania.


Our hard work and dedication does not go unnoticed!





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