Seven people are under arrest, accused of operating an illegal auto theft ring in the Greater Toronto Area. The arrest resulted in the recovery of over $1million worth of stolen automobiles. The investigation was a joint effort by authorities.
Over the past several months, the Insurance Bureau of Canada and Canada Border Services Agency joined forces, seizing several stolen vehicles. The vehicles were recovered from shipping containers found on the ports of Montreal and Halifax.
"According to police, the alleged crime ring included an informal collection of thieves who stole the cars, a licensed car dealer who fraudulently obtained Ministry of Transportation documents, a person who changed the Vehicle Information Number (VIN) on the vehicles to mask their identity and an exporter who shipped the stolen vehicles from Canada to be sold in West Africa," the IBC said in a statement.
This wasn’t a small scale operation. It was a well-planned out scheme to defraud auto insurance companies of millions. The perpetrators would ship stolen vehicles in containers from Toronto to Montreal and Halifax before shipping them overseas to Africa.
According to auditing firm KPMG, insurance fraud adds up to as high as $1.6 billion annually in Ontario alone. While IBC and CBSA have been successful to a degree, they have limited resources. They’ve only been able to recover $8 million in stolen vehicles in 2014.
Insurance Fraud Hurts Everyone
Contrary to popular belief, insurance isn’t a victimless crime. Everyone comes up a loser from insurance fraud. When it comes to insurance, you may have heard of the saying: the premiums of the many pay for the losses of the few. Although for most people insurance claims come to mind first for losses, insurance fraud hurts insurance companies as well.
Insurance fraud is similar to shoplifting. While a single case of insurance fraud on its own may not amount to much, many cases over time can hurt the bottom line of insurance companies. Although insurance companies want to stay competitive, they can only afford to absorb so many of these losses. The losses are passed along to honest people who have a clean driving record and pay their premiums on time.
Insurance fraud comes in many shapes and sizes from staging collisions right up to auto theft rings. Although the authorities are able to investigate larger cases of fraud, they don’t have the manpower to police everyone. Each year hundreds of people stage auto collisions to fraudulently file claims. If people were more honest and realized they’re hurting everyone, perhaps our premiums wouldn’t go up by so much each year.