The Department of Insurance says scammers would create crashes by braking out of the blue. If you leave plenty of space ahead of you, you can avoid crashing into the scammers back-end. If not, your insurance may be paying for overpriced repairs, fake doctor bills and claims by fraudulent lawyers.
"Unfortunately, Los Angeles has the dubious distinction of being the auto fraud capital of the Golden State with over 7,700 fraud claims reported last year alone," Dave Jones, state insurance commissioner.
As for the cost of those bogus claims, officials say Los Angeles County residents end up paying the price in the long run.
"Angelenos must pay from $200 to $300 more annually in higher auto insurance premiums due to fraud," said Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey.
The Department of Insurance is providing nearly $7 million to the L.A. District Attorney's Office to investigate thousands of suspicious cases. In some accidents, the scammers pay people $50 to ride in the scam car, act as witnesses and then pretend to be hurt.
Some tell-tale signs of a staged accident:
-The car you hit is packed with passengers
-The other driver's insurance was recently issued
-The scam car is in poor condition or has a "salvage" title
If this sounds familiar, officials say you should notify the Department of Insurance at (800) 927-HELP. The best advice from investigators: drive even more defensively.