The masterminds of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) fraud rarely put themselves in danger. They hire people to crash cars and file false police reports. Those average folk take big risks for a few bucks, while PIP fraud organizers collect the lion’s share of the money from insurance companies.
So, when we hear that auto insurance companies are taking advantage of consumers, we point to Faika Khader, who was short on cash and ideas how to get it. She told police that she needed $900 and signed on to a PIP fraud scheme to earn the money.
In August 2011, Khader crashed her Dodge minivan into a car at an intersection in Boynton Beach. She filed a PIP claim with Farmers Insurance at Apex Chiropractic & Rehab Center in West Palm Beach.
She later admitted to a Farmers Insurance investigator that a man she did not previously know gave her $900 to buy an auto insurance policy. On the night of the crash, he gave her instructions on what to do after the accident, and urged her to add passengers to her van. In return, he promised her several thousand dollars.
When the Florida Department of Financial Service’s Fraud Division became involved, Khader slightly changed her story, but the essentials were the same: Cause a crash, file a PIP claim, go to the clinic, and receive $2,000.
Khader was arrested, but the two strangers who rode in her minivan were not found. She’s in the most trouble, while the scammers – including the mystery man who recruited her – have moved on. We expect that they will resurface: clinic operators that police shut down often re-open in other counties, sometimes hiding their true identities.
We might not sympathize with Khader, but we can understand why she committed the crime: She needed the money. The real victims are the driver of the car she hit and all of us, who pay higher auto insurance premiums because the laws aren’t tough enough on PIP fraud.