The fraud investigation unit of the Estonian operation of Vienna Insurance Group has identified a Russian group that staged road accidents mainly at roundabouts in Estonia and Latvia to claim money from local insurers.
The actions of the 10-strong group that conducted its fraudulent activity here since 2018 were aimed at defrauding insurance companies active in Estonia and Latvia of insurance compensation.
According to Janek Ljakin, head of the fraud prevention and investigation department at the Vienna Insurance Group operation in Estonia, all such insurance cases happened during lane change in regular road traffic or at a roundabouts and were intentionally caused by the fraudsters.
"The fraudsters from Russia chose locations where it was possible to easily make use of inattention and mistakes on the part of motorists. Only powerful and expensive luxury vehicles were used for the staging of accidents," Ljakin said, explaining that the drivers of such vehicles were intentionally on the lookout for unsuspecting motorists who would turn up in their way at an intersection of when changing lane.
"Based on the evidence gathered in the process of handling of the damage cases, it was practically impossible for the parties accused of causing the accidents to prevent the collisions," he added.
To date, five such cases that took place at traffic circles in Tallinn have been identified.
International cooperation and cooperation with other insurers has made it possible to identify ten insurance cases that have taken place under similar circumstances. The size of the claim in each of these cases was on the average 15,000 euros, which the fraudsters tried to have compensated by all means, putting pressure on claims assessors and workers of the call center.
"An analysis of the collected information revealed that the vehicles had damage in the same areas already before and attempts were made to cover or hide that damage with traces caused by the new collision. In the course of the solving of the cases it was revealed that the vehicles that participated in the accidents had been used in similar accidents also outside Estonia. In addition, there were indications of counterfeiting in the documents presented to the insurers and the dates of the accidents had been changed to get an insurance benefit," Ljakin said.
Ljakin emphasized that experienced insurance investigators have a broad network of contacts and can quickly track down even the smallest lie.
He also urged all participants in a traffic accident to record all circumstances of the accident with utmost precision, including by taking photos of the vehicles, participants in the accident, as well as documents presented by other motorists, and make sure that they take the contacts of all the drivers and passengers involved.
Under the Estonian Penal Code, insurance fraud is punishable by a fine or up to five years' imprisonment.
The companies of Vienna Insurance Group in Estonia are BTA, Seesam and Compensa.
Editor: Helen Wright