2 Investigators: Slip And Foiled

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CHICAGO (CBS) — One type of insurance scam is repeatedly caught on tape: bogus slip-and-fall accidents. These types of claims cost American consumers billions of dollars, including in higher insurance premiums.

2 Investigator Dave Savini reviewed numerous videos with Mark Sakalares, a special agent with the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), which is headquartered in Des Plaines.

“There’s the terrible fall,” Sakalares said while watching a video of a man caught on tape taking a tumble.  “And here comes the friend to help him now.”

But moments before the fall, the two were caught on surveillance camera scouting out the location.

In another video, an alleged scammer pours cider and puts a piece of fruit on the ground before tumbling.

Sakalares says the poor economy has led to an increase in these kinds of scams. 

Nationwide, in 2008, the NICB reported 1,143 suspicious cases. Last year, there were 1,421 cases, which is a 24 percent increase. In Illinois, the bogus claims climbed by 80 percent during the same time span. In 2008, there were 46 cases, and the number spiked to 83 suspicious fraud cases in 2010.

“It’s huge, it’s gigantic,” Sakalares said.

Fraudulent claims easily top $1 billion.

In more surveillance videos, a woman pretends to slip on a hot dog. Her alleged accomplice was caught on tape buying the hot dog, with a child by his side, then planting it before she fell. Both were convicted of fraud.

“It’s rather ridiculous to see them sometimes,” Sakalares says.  “You will see people come in and pour the water on the floor, or they will take a bottle of oil off the shelf and pour some oil on the floor.”

One female team caught in the act was dubbed “The Hair Pair.” One appears to fall, but prior moments caught on tape revealed one woman spreading liquid on the floor and then getting into position and fixing her hair. The pair wanted $300,000, but were prosecuted instead.

“It’s a lot of money,” said Sakalares.  “And they’re fighting it the best they can — the insurance companies are.”

Chicago ranks in the top five for cities with the most fraud cases. NICB officials say the trend may continue unless more fraudulent claims are prosecuted and unless punishments are strict. 

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  • Charlie Morris

    Dear Dave, I appreciate the segment on the news tonight I am sad to say that it is people like this that have made it difficult for me in 2006 I slipped and fell at a Jewel Food Store in Barrington Illinois on a brand new black pocket comb that they carried and sold at their store 15 feet from a surveilance camera.as a result I injured my right shoulder rotator cuff and herniated c-5 and c-6 disk in my cervical spine which I have had to get surgery on both at the time of injury jewel was pre authorizing medical visits until they were they were made aware of the seriousness of these injurys then they went south on me because i was not willing to accept a out of court settlement which they never disclosed how much i now have $400,000 in medical bills and am glad i didn’t settle it has been a nightmare not to mention they conveniently lost the surveilance viedo and deny carring the comb I later within 1 week went back to the store and purchased one in case ths went to TRIAL so not all people are frauds and stores have policies to keep theyr’e floors maintained and free of debris unfortunately they are trying to do more with less in this economy and have cut back on labor cost. would I ever love to have an Interveiw with you

    • KE

      Charlie — Ever hear the term Look where you are walking?

      What responsibility do you bear?

      I would be careful what you wish for — ebcause you could wind up in jail.

      Think about all the scenarios before you tell people you story…

      Are you physically fit? Exercise regularly? Use a cane? Walker?
      Let your body slip? Were you wearing wheelies or roller skatesat the time?
      Leave the house in slipperlike shoes? Wipe your feet on the mat before you entered the store (freeing them of the motor oil you may have brought in with you)
      Have issues with your weight or back in the past? Play football or contact sports while going up —
      Come on — a rotaor cuff and back surgery on 2 vertabrae because you slipped on a comb? How tall are you 45 feet?

      Do you even live in Barrington? Or did you go there because you thought it was a more afffluent area to fall?

      • Joel

        You know? I do not wish harm on anyone, but your comments are asinine. you know nothing about “Charlie”, nor do I, but you did not even give him the “benefit of the doubt,” . Shame on you!!!!!!!!

      • Charlie

        Dear KE yes I have heard and practiced for 47 years watch where you are going.should one constantly be looking down at the floor? I did not wish for this to occur nobody wants permanate visible scars especially on the front of theyre neck cervical neck surgery is not somthing I woke up and said I have nothing better to do today so lets go get cut open. Doctors do not lie and put theyre practice in jeprody any good doctor that is. MRIs do not lie have you had one? Yes I was physically fit and was fully employed and excercised regularly yes I live in Barrington. my point was that not all injurys are fraudulent and that it is because of these scam artist that do not have a life that it has made things more difficult for those that are in fact ligitamate it has never been in question rather this occured in theyre store they sent me to get treated in the first place. obviously you are narrow minded and have never been injured on someones property that has a responsibility to carry insurance in the event an accident occurs.

  • Bob Hamilton

    I was working the register at a restaurant when a lady fell right in front of me. It was obviously fake, so I just looked at her for a few seconds and she looked at me without saying anything. I took the next customers until she got up and walked away. I have also have 2 or 3 spectacular falls on restaurants floors as a customer, but got right up and continued on. One of those falls resulted in a slightly sprained knee which lasted about a day. No claims and no reports of course. Once an elderly lady slipped and she could not get up, she insisted that she was fine and did not want an ambulance. I called 911 and it turned out that she had a broken pelvis and other serious injuries.

  • Perliee

    Check their shoes. Sometimes they bring bad shoes to stores, restaurants and hair salons just to fall on their faces and make themselves look they are hurt and collect lots of money from this places.
    Someone should check all the time this so called customers who want to get all your insurance money while they rip us all off.
    Dear Dave Savini, you are doing such a wonderful work in trying to stop these rip offs and make us all pay for their scams.
    Thanks a lot.

  • Roberta Waker

    I agree that people should be made aware of these scams and anyone perpetrating them should get jail time. I fell in a restaurant a couple of years ago and was more embarrassed than hurt. Got right up and continued to our table with no thought whatsoever of a lawsuit.

    • Joel

      Roberta? What would you have done, if you could not have gotten up?

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  • me

    my neck and my back

  • FR

    It should also be called insurance fraud when an insurance company doubts and delays a legitimate claim. In those cases, someone in the insurance company should be prosecuted. The law should work equally both ways.

    • Charlie

      I Agree 100%

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    […] 2 Investigators: Slip And Foiled « CBS Chicago. […]

  • KE

    Part of the problem for years is that there was not “network” for scam artists. Many of these slip and fall “victims” go from store to store and from town to town. Certain stores have started talking to one another, but many still do not have a good systme set up and many of these people.
    Example — one “victim” will go to a store on the far northside of Chicago, say Dominkcs, then tcross over into Evanston and go into a Whole Foods, then next on to Skokie to a Jewel, the maybe over to Old Orchard Mall Food Court, then on to Dominicks in Morton Grove, then the Target in Niles, and so on — they can do 1 -3 stores a day
    and many of these stores give them a “nuisance fee” of $1000 – $1500 for their trouble (a lot less expensive than having their attorneys and employees go to court,). THAT is why they keep doing it

    • Charlie

      Are you the one providing the transportation here buddy? you seem to have it all figured out

  • benji

    LOL, the videos are hilarious!

  • Jay

    Every slip-n-fall is suspect. YOU are responsible for looking where you step.

    When you see an attorney about a slip-n-fall, you’ll be questioned extensively because your attorney has to present everything to the insurance company.

    The burden is on you.

  • Jack

    My 6 year old son got his hand stuck in the convayor belt at the Menards in Carpentersville. He was trying to help me bag the items we purchased. The insurance company started reimbursing me for his medical bills but are now saying that it was my fault after they reviewed the security camera footage. I dont think its right. What do you think?

  • Charlie

    Personally I suggest contacting an attorney to protect your and your sons best intrest. these big corporate stores are making changes to of course save money . example self checkouts , employee cashiers but customer self bag ect.. KE who has left comments would I guess state your son should have watched where he was putting his fingers as if he did it intentionally to rip off the insurance companies. Consult a very repitable attorney if not one see several. if they were paying the medical at first what was the real reason they stopped paying other than we reveiwed the camera? wish you the best, and a speedy recovery for your son.

  • Joel

    Obviously your son did this on purpose! “KE” told me!!!

    • Charlie

      Joel thank you for your comment KE does not give anyone the benefit of the doubt even if it is an isolated incident first time. KE must work for NCIB I personally hope he never gets injured but his attitude is well deserving that if he did, to not receive medical treatment paid for through any Insurance company he does not believe in accidents. this is why they made up the word so that it would not be in KE’s dictionary . Hey KE do you believe in CARMA ???

  • Joel

    I am not saying that every incident is legitimate, far from it, but give someone the benefit of the doubt! If they have slipped at several places on the same day, then I would say that is a little suspect!

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