Insurance companies are motivated by their bottom lines and take aggressive measures to investigate suspected fraud. Fraud can also be reported by other people, who can make anonymous referrals simply by submitting a form. However, no matter what triggers an investigation into alleged insurance fraud, the consequences can be severe. Not only can the insured face hefty fines and civil penalties – there can also be criminal penalties, including prison time.
If you or a family member has been arrested or is under investigation for insurance fraud in Baltimore, you need an effective defense attorney on your side. Randolph Rice is a Baltimore fraud attorney with years of experience defending consumers in misdemeanor and felony insurance fraud cases, along with various related “white collar” (financial) crimes. When you need an aggressive trial lawyer who will work tirelessly to protect your constitutional rights, reduce the penalties you face, and guide you through a confusing and complex legal system, you need Randolph Rice in your corner. For a free legal consultation, call 24 hours at (410) 694-7291, or contact Rice, Murtha & Psoras online.
What is Considered Insurance Fraud in Maryland?
There are many ways that a person can commit insurance fraud in the state of Maryland. Examples of actions that might constitute insurance fraud include:
- Intentionally crashing a vehicle, or intentionally causing a car accident, to collect insurance money
- Intentionally damaging or destroying property, or intentionally faking or causing a self-inflicted injury, for the purpose of collecting insurance money
- Lying or making false statements to insurance adjusters or other employees of an insurance company
- Obtaining prescription drugs (or other types of medical treatment) by using fraudulent insurance forms, cards, or information
- Stealing or misappropriating another person’s rightful insurance benefits
- Submitting false, manipulated, or fraudulent documents to insurance companies or insurance adjusters
Depending on what gave rise to the fraud charges, additional charges could also be filed, such as arson or theft charges. For example, arson charges could be filed in a case where someone allegedly set fire to a building or property.
Can Someone Report You for Suspected Insurance Fraud?
Insurance companies have developed numerous tools, technologies, and databases that help them to identify indicators of consumer fraud. However, fraud can also be reported from the outside. Consumers who suspect that insurance fraud is occurring can report other consumers, anonymously if they wish, by filing a fraud referral form with the Maryland Insurance Administration, Maryland Insurance Fraud Division. The form allows consumers to report all types of insurance fraud in Baltimore, including but not limited to:
- Auto Insurance Fraud
- Disability Fraud
- Commercial Insurance Fraud
- Life Insurance Fraud
- Health Insurance Fraud
- Homeowners Insurance Fraud
- Renters Insurance Fraud
- Workers’ Compensation Fraud
Many insurance fraud cases involve consumers who destroy property or submit fraudulent claims to illegally obtain benefits. However, there are also situations where insurers or their employees are the ones engaging in fraud. For example, the FBI reports that “the most common type of insurance fraud” is premium diversion, a type of scam in which “an insurance agent fails to send premiums to the underwriter and instead keeps the money for personal use.” Fraud tends to become especially prevalent after a major storm or disaster occurs.
Can You Go to Jail for Insurance Fraud?
In short, yes. In fact, not only can you face prison time – you may also be looking at additional consequences, some of which are discussed in the section below.
The length of a jail or prison sentence for insurance fraud depends on the nature of the offense, the defendant’s criminal history, and other factors. Maryland penalties for insurance fraud (“fraudulent insurance acts”) are enumerated under Maryland Code § 27-408, which establishes the following sentencing maximums for felony and misdemeanor offenses:
- Misdemeanor Insurance Fraud – Up to 18 months in prison
- Felony Insurance Fraud – Up to 15 years in prison
Other Insurance Fraud Penalties
In addition to establishing maximum prison terms, Maryland Code § 27-408 also establishes various fines and fees for insurance fraud violations. The maximum fine is generally $10,000 or three times the claim’s value – whichever amount is greater. In addition, Maryland Code § 27-408(c)(1)(i) creates an “administrative penalty” of up to $25,000 per violation, which may be imposed in cases where there is “clear and convincing evidence” to show that a violation took place. This provision is important because “clear and convincing evidence” is a less rigorous standard than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is the standard used in criminal cases.
Baltimore Insurance Fraud Defense Lawyer Offering Free Consultations
Insurance fraud can have serious criminal consequences, even if it is your first conviction and you have no prior criminal history. Make sure you are working actively to mitigate the damage and protect yourself by hiring an experienced insurance fraud defense lawyer in Baltimore. For a free legal consultation with attorney Randolph Rice, contact us online, or call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291 today.