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Arson - For Profit

This questionable vehicle theft claim was referred to Covert due to the following red flags:

  1. Stolen and recovered burnt

  2. Insured was 1 month behind in their loan payments

  3. Insured was on their first policy period

  4. Vehicle had notable UPD collision damage

  5. No sign of forced entry at the theft location (no broken glass)

  6. Insured claimed to have both sets of keys

 

The investigation into this questionable vehicle theft claim revealed that the insured misrepresented the facts of this loss and filed a false police report to cover up the misrepresentation of this claim.



The investigation into this questionable vehicle theft claim revealed that the insured misrepresented the facts of this loss and filed a false police report to cover up the misrepresentation of this claim.

 

The Phoenix Police theft report revealed that the insured reported the vehicle stolen from her driveway on the date of loss and claimed to have the [1 and only] key to the vehicle, when she originally told CLAIMS that she had two keys to the vehicle. A review of the policy revealed that the insured had three vehicles listed on her policy and she was the only listed driver (hidden driver concerns).

 

During a call to the tow company, we learned that the vehicle was recovered in an industrial area of Phoenix, which is 0.8 miles from the insured's home address. The vehicle inspection revealed it to be a total loss from fire which consumed the engine compartment and passenger compartment; however, the passenger compartment sustained surprisingly less damage. The windshield was missing, the hood and front bumper cover were missing. The engine, transmission and other components were destroyed. All the windows appeared intact except for the windshield which likely suffered thermal damage and some attempted breakage to the driver's side window; however, the heavy window tint likely obstructed fire crews from entry. The steering column, dash and lower kick panels were all intact and showed no signs of forced entry. The ignition was completely intact and undamaged. There was no evidence of tampering and the ignition cylinder was in the locked position and would not turn freely. This suggested the vehicle was driven to the fire site by someone with the key.



Investigators then traveled to the burn site and recovery location in Phoenix and found scorch marks and the fire debris field along the roadway. Immediately adjacent to the fire site, there were surveillance cameras on the exterior of a local business.

 

We contacted the management who were extremely helpful and supportive of our investigation. They allowed us into their office and supplied us with a copy of the surveillance video which contained over 4 hours of video.


**This video has been condensed for your viewing pleasure.


A review of the surveillance video revealed the insured's vehicle was driven to the fire site where it was set on fire by who appeared to be the insured's boyfriend. The insured's white Dodge Challenger (listed on the policy) was driven by the same male multiple times as he tried to set the vehicle on fire. Eventually, the engine and passenger compartment caught fire; however, the Fire Department responded quickly and doused the fire.

 

During the insured's recorded statement, she provided details consistent with her original facts of loss. She claimed that she parked the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu in her driveway and came out the following morning to find her vehicle missing. There was no evidence of forced entry in her driveway, and she produced the only key she claimed to have. The insured admitted the vehicle had mechanical and electrical problems and that she had to continually make repairs to the vehicle.


When confronted about the evidence and the vehicle being set on fire, the insured was shown a photo of the ignition cylinder that was intact and reminded that the vehicle was only driven to the fire site with the key (the insured acted shocked). When shown still photos depicting her boyfriend driving her Dodge Challenger and setting her Malibu on fire, the insured asserted twice that: "I recant everything."

 

While preparing the claim withdrawal paperwork, the insured admitted that they lit the vehicle on fire because the vehicle had electrical issues and because she owes too much for the vehicle and could not trade it in. The insured then stated that she was talked into this by her [now ex] boyfriend. The insured advised that she would be breaking up with her boyfriend due to this incident and withdrew her claim.

 

We completed our report and submitted the NICB referral. Between, NICB, Arizona's DIFI and Phoenix Police Arson Division, they requested our file to aid in their prosecution of the insured for insurance fraud, arson and filing a false police report.

 

In Closing


It is important to remember that referring any case to SIU is best done early in the claims process. In this case, we were able to locate and preserve surveillance video which showed the insured's boyfriend setting the vehicle on fire. A lot of times, surveillance video is what is referred to as evidence which can "spoil," meaning the evidence go bad or be deleted inadvertently.


If you find red flag indicators on any case, be sure to send the referral to Covert Business Solutions for a thorough investigation. You can use this link to refer a case: https://covertbs.viewcases.com/case/request/new

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