As if COVID-19 hasn’t already caused us enough stress and anxiety with concerns about our health, jobs, money and the future, now comes the next dose – fraudsters and scammers ramping up to take advantage and serve us more pain and aggravation.
Just this morning, I read about a CBD oil manufacturer claiming its products prevent and cure COVID-19. The FDA apparently disagreed and forced the company to stop making such claims. While this may not be as egregious as other fraud schemes, it is certainly reckless and takes advantage of our current vulnerabilities.
Fraud is no stranger – particularly to our vulnerable senior population – but we are all at risk of being duped. In my reading, I’ve come across stories of those who now are falsely marketing short-term health policies. I also read about a guy who walked into a retail store claiming he was from “Health Services” and was providing on the spot COVID-19 testing, the cost of which would be reimbursed to them by their insurance carrier. Soon, we can expect to see con-artist coming through our neighborhoods trying to convince us to “disinfect” our homes with their patented COVID-19 fighting solutions. And this is just the beginning.
While vehicle traffic is reduced on our roadways these days, we will likely see more staged collisions with claims of permanent personal injury. We will see bogus claims of auto thefts as some insureds try to get out from under those hefty car payments. Workers compensation claims by employees forced to work from home will surface. With no witnesses and questions about what is covered and by whom, where do you start that investigation?
My point is this. As investigators, attorneys, adjusters – the whole anti-fraud community, we must step up our game and embrace new technologies to investigate effectively. Vendors must be properly staffed with qualified and vetted personnel. We must work with colleagues nationally to identify trends and share fraud indicators. Law enforcement and prosecutors must prepare to fast-track case referrals. In the civil courts, we can certainly expect a rise in litigation involving the issues described above. There is much to do, even now as we work remotely, and in advance of an onslaught of pent-up work awaiting us when life returns to normal. My advice is Don’t Back Off – Be Proactive.
In my camp, my Subrosa teammates and I have been participating in numerous podcasts and online training sessions to educate ourselves further on how to better combat the typical fraud schemes as well as how to deter, recognize and react to newly developed ones. We are also building additional relationships with forensic professionals who might support us in cases that require special skills down the road.
We also are using this time to call, email and chat with clients about possible solutions to problematic cases, strategizing on what the current lifestyle conditions and probable future afford us. For instance, we are finding that many of the elusive witnesses and parties our clients have been looking for are now available. They are picking up their phone calls and cooperating in telephone interviews. Like most of us, Claimants/Plaintiffs have stepped up their online communications, sharing more than ever on social media platforms, even discussing issues pertaining to their cases and plans for their future.
While some of our investor clients have taken a breather, others are as busy as ever. Vetting principals and members of executive management teams to be acquired by merger are in high demand, especially those businesses providing new products and services needed in a COVID-19 world.
And while many of us are striving to merely keep our employees employed, some businesses are growing! The need for first responders and workers of essential businesses of all kinds is high. That means our Pre-employment Screening investigators have their hands full.
I’d love to hear your perspective. What are you seeing out there? We’d love to hear from you.
Be safe and stay healthy.