On The Rise: People Blowing Up Their Own Cars

Nothing salves buyer’s remorse like a match in a fuel tank. Citing National Insurance Crime Bureau figures, a Los Angeles Times story says car owners are resorting to nefarious means to put an end to burdensome car loans. In the first quarter of the year, suspicious fires or arson were up 27 percent for the first quarter of the year and cases of intentionally destroyed cars shot up 24 percent.

Barbecuing a Beamer is one of the more dramatic types of suspected insurance fraud that’s increasing in this economic downturn, the deepest in half a century. But it’s not the only one. Suspicious personal injury slip-and-fall claims increased 60% in the first quarter; staged car accidents were up 34% and commercial property fire/arson cases jumped 76%.

Some consumers figure they’ve paid premiums year after year, experts said, and that their insurers might not closely check every single claim. In fact, investigators say they tend to be particularly busy during tough economic times when an increasing number of policyholders are caught in financial crunches.

“When the economy goes south, crime goes up,” said Frank Scafidi, a crime bureau spokesman in Sacramento.

So those of you who planned on having your car be stolen, torched and abandoned may want to hold off until the stats dip in the second quarter.

Vehicle fraud cases heat up amid economic downturn [Los Angeles Times]
(Photo: emilybean)

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.