SAN ANTONIO - It's a crime that rips-off all of us: insurance fraud. It’s estimated to cost each of us about $300 more every year on our premiums. Now, San Antonio has a new fraud investigation team whose only job is going after insurance crooks.
San Antonio is only the third Texas city to get a prosecutor and investigator who are dedicated exclusively to cases of insurance fraud. These crimes not only cost us more, in some cases, they leave people without insurance coverage they desperately need.
You may remember the News 4 WOAI Trouble Shooters story on the insurance agent accused of pocketing her customers' insurance premiums, leaving them without coverage. Or the pain clinic that closed down after the doctor was accused of fraudulent billing, leaving patients in agony.
The Bexar County District Attorney announced today that her office will now have a prosecutor who will handle these kinds of complicated insurance cases.
“It's those kinds of individuals that we want to make sure are targeted and brought to justice”, said D.A. Susan Reed.
Reed has appointed Nicole Thornbro, to be the insurance fraud prosecutor, and she'll have an investigator working with her. Their salaries will be paid by the Texas Department of Insurance.
In an interview, Thornbro told News 4 WOAI, “The citizens of Bexar County are the victims every single day. Their premiums go up, people are making false claims all the time, saying they're injured when they're not, saying their house or car has been burned when actually it's an arson case they just want to collect the insurance money.”
A local man, Dristopher Gonzales, recently pleaded no contest to defrauding State Farm out of $26,000. He claimed his boat had been stolen.
There are more complicated schemes, like staged car accident rings. Crooks in several vehicles target an innocent driver, purposely cause a minor accident, and then file expensive medical claims.
Dallas got a special insurance fraud prosecutor several years back and he's been very successful, so it was decided to assign one here and in Houston.
If you want to report insurance fraud, you can call this special hotline, it is (888) 327-8818.