Car insurance fraud rises in bad economy

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Just as foreclosures and deed in lieu transactions are rising, an increasing number of Americans are also abandoning luxury cars they can no longer afford.

But some people are adding a creative twist: Instead of simply abandoning the car or handing the keys back to the lender, they're dumping them in ditches and then reporting them stolen hoping to collect a fat insurance settlement. Insurance claims are on the rise and the Wall Street Journalreports(subscription required) that "Authorities report a growing number of cars dumped in the Great Lakes, burned along remote New Jersey roadsides and driven into canals in California.

The phenomenon is acute in Las Vegas, where sharp declines in tourism and construction have left thousands of workers unemployed and broke."

If you're considering doing something like this, here's the best advice: Don't. Sure, there's a reasonably good chance that you'll get away with it but if you get caught you will probably end up in the slammer. Even if you don't get caught, you're participating in a scam that jacks up insurance costs for everyone else.

Another form of car insurance fraud that's also on the rise -- and can more directly victimize innocent bystanders -- is the "staged accident." Check out the video below.

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