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June 24th, 2009
09:36 AM ET

Torching cars for cash

It’s happening in Florida, California, New Jersey and Texas. More and more burned cars are turning up in tow yards these days. These are cars reported stolen from their owners, but law enforcement says it’s the owners themselves who are committing the crimes.

“Ordinary people are hiring others to torch their vehicles,” says Paula Dow, Essex County prosecutor in New Jersey.

Why? And who's doing it? Prosecutors in Newark, New Jersey have some answers.

“They're all types. But it really is Jane and John Q. Citizen that is doing it,” according to Michael Morris, asst. prosecutor in Newark.

Among the perpetrators, a convicted elementary school principal, and a businessman and a Dallas chiropractor who both plead guilty to attempted insurance fraud.

Driven, investigators say, by economic desperation to commit 'owner give ups'. That's when an owner reports their vehicle stolen, but actually stages the theft and torches the car to collect the insurance money.

“We've seen an increase in the number of vehicles that have been given up by owners,” says Det. Tom Reilly, Dallas County Sheriff's Department.

While there are no national numbers, Detective Reilly says that suspicious auto theft reports are up 12% this year in Dallas County.

In New York, the number of people who were arrested for suspicion of making a false auto theft report increased from 96 in 2007 to 130 in 2008, according to the New York Alliance Against Insurance Fraud.

But don't take Tom Reilly's word alone. Listen to the owners themselves, like John McCreey, the chiropractor who pleaded guilty.

“I made a lot of mistakes…the result of it's affected me financially.”

And Arthur Stewart, “When you do something you have to think of the consequences.”

Det. Reilly says the owners agreed to be videotaped as part of their plea agreements. He uses the tapes for a public awareness campaign.

“What better way than hear the words from people that committed fraud,” says Reilly

The latest numbers are disturbing. Exclude Essex County, where Newark is located, and New Jersey only prosecuted about 25 vehicle arson cases in 2007. Include Essex County and that number more than triples to 79 for the same period.

What are officials in Essex County doing to combat those numbers?

“We are aggressively prosecuting the wrong-doers here… We will prosecute those who hire as well as those who set the fire,” says Dow.

Filed under: Crime
soundoff (121 Responses)
  1. Carl

    I remember a time when insurance wasn't mandatory and enforced by the law and we did pretty good back then. Sure it wasn't perfect but it was a lot better than how it is now.

    I guess my real problem is that the Government has bailed out everyone But the citizens of this country and now those same citizens feel so desperate that they're committing fraud in order to survive.

    Let me ask you this, when my shop fails will some one bail me out? Some how I doubt it.

    June 24, 2009 at 1:32 pm |
  2. LaLa

    Lol, I know that this is no laughing matter, but it is such a small world. I know the Chiropractor, he was in Garland for a while and I know his now ex-wife. This guy is not only a fraud but a cheater, he got caught in a precarious position with his receptionist, by his wife no less. They have several children together and she stuck it to him with child support. So I can see how he has no money, all I can say is what goes around comes around.

    June 24, 2009 at 1:32 pm |
  3. watchdog

    "Many of us were doing fine and were able to live decently until layoffs came along."

    That will do it for sure – we know first hand in our house. We bought them when we both worked and could pay for them. Loose a source of income from a major bread earner and it is only time a matter of time when you have to give it up & let em come and get it. We bought an auction car with part of our "saving" cushion with cash and moved on. Can't say we weren't tempted to do an insurance job but we put the kibosh on that idea quickly. Not worth the risk for a trip to "club fed". We knew a father & son team that did jobs on both of their new Nissan Maximas and got caught. It was not pretty for neither one of them. It is better to deal with the finance company than the long arm of the law any day. Credit is salvageable.

    June 24, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  4. john Q. Public

    To Fred:

    In my opinion, citizens learn their behaviors by leadership example. More fraud? Yes, and it was learned by leadership example. So, wouldn't it be very interesting (and chaotic) if every American citizen decided to "join the leaders" by committing frauds in protest of this pink elephant in the livingroom situation?

    Inronically, a "fraud rebellion" would guarantee the corrupt government's inability to prosecute anyone at any meaningful statistical levels. Therefore, the fraud rebellion would send a loud and clear signal to the cowardly elitists whom have been ripping off this country for years to knock it off. What if this happened?

    Well, guess what... this "fraud rebellion" is already happening when affluent salaried professionals with life savings join in on the foreclosure "can't pay my mortgage" rebellion. My point... it's already happening and the corrupt government's unable to prosecute these citizens, so to "quash" the rebellion... it rewards them with revised loan terms as the good guys get screwed!

    So, who says, "fraud doesn't pay?" Looks like it does. That's my opinion. In fact, "the good guys" are the only ones losing these days!!

    Welcome to the new America. We reap what we've sowed. Food for thought.

    How do we fix it? Make an effort implementing CIVIL JUSTICE reform... dismantling the dirty fabric of this decaying society – the seedy underbelly of power and influence contrived by leveraging a corrupt civil law system. The present broken antequated "civil rights auction house" produces all of this dirty byproduct. That's my opinion. So, who's the first coward to step forward with change of the civil injustice system in this administration? Anyone? I didn't think so.

    So, leadership by example produces FRAUD. That's my opinion,

    June 24, 2009 at 1:30 pm |
  5. Ken

    I am not convinced that if these fraud claims were not made the insurance companies would pass the savings on to me. I expect they would just keep the savings as their profit.

    June 24, 2009 at 1:29 pm |

    I have burned 3 or 4 cars in my 50 years. When Car Dealers and Insurance Companies do what they say they will do, THEN I WILL, until then.......................BIC it is!

    June 24, 2009 at 1:27 pm |
  7. Dave

    "In New York, the number of people who were arrested for suspicion of making a false auto theft report increased"

    How does one, in America, get arrested for a suspicion ??

    June 24, 2009 at 1:27 pm |
  8. pherjenni

    Hmmm....interesting.....nawww...better not. A person would lose WAY more (i.e. time, money, credibility, marriage, family, job, business, etc.) in jail than whatever the car's worth.

    I've been homeless before with four kids and the thought of torching a car, or any other illegal "acts of survival" never occurred to me. They are all grown now and doing extremely well, including myself. Imagine if I had made one of those bad choices. Life would certainly be different...even if I'd never got caught because God sees even when no one else does. It would eventually catch up to us, because we reap what we sow.

    June 24, 2009 at 1:25 pm |
  9. Hurley

    Man, some of you people are crazy. Talking about politics and coporations and blaming Obama. This is a story about people who can't afford their cars anymore and take the easy (but illegal) way out.

    June 24, 2009 at 1:24 pm |
  10. Jack Bauer

    How about just driving your car into a tree or a lake before you are late on any payments. To hell with the insurance companies!!!

    June 24, 2009 at 1:23 pm |
  11. GMACeeeeya

    Yes give your car back...and they sue you for the rest of the amount that the sell your car for at auction for pennies on the end up still paying for it.

    June 24, 2009 at 1:23 pm |
  12. Joe D.

    The sad truth is that dishonesty has become commonplace. Banks that charge 25-45 dollars for an overdraft, many of them resulting from the way they apply deposited money, credit card companies that are charging the same ridiculous fees of 40.00 and up for late fees and over limit fees. Credit bureaus are out of control. I recently was told that I could not get the lowest rate for motorcylce insurance because 1. Most of my credit history was after the age of 50, 5 years or less of reported credit history (pure crap), 1 credit inquiry in the last 24 months and most recent car loan or lease opened 1-4 years ago. The fact that I had a car loan of 36 months that I paid off in 20 didn't make the list. Credit bureaus should report on whether or not you pay your bills on time, nothing more. I think there has to be a helluva class action suit against these morons. The reason that the banks, credit card companies and credit bureaus get away with it is because of lobbiests. Pure and simple. We have a corrupt political system that caters to the money. We need term limits.

    June 24, 2009 at 1:22 pm |
  13. Jeff

    Actually, can we torch the politicians and the lawyers?
    That is how this country went to hell in a handbasket.

    June 24, 2009 at 1:22 pm |
  14. Bertha Alexander

    The insurance companies are the culprits. SInce the law began requiring every driver to be insured , companies have raised their rates

    June 24, 2009 at 1:20 pm |
  15. Cal

    To Mattdaddy: Pretty close but I don't think a simple thing like death will let you out of the debt. I guess it depends on your "estate".

    June 24, 2009 at 1:19 pm |
  16. rae mitchell

    Seems to me people need to shop harder for a better bargain when they BUY the car in the first place!

    Case in point, many years ago I was hit by a lady who wasn't paying attention and ran a red light. Plowed right into the side of the vehicle. Guess what? Total cost to repair our vehicle? $88.35. Yes, that's eighty-five dollars and thirty-five cents...the cost of a new rim. It was the only thing her 200sx damaged as she plowed into the Ford F-350 4×4 I was in. Cost to her car? Who knows, but I can almost guarantee $2,500+.

    When shopping for a car, cost of repairs in case of damage is just as important an issue as the other costs of ownership.

    The thing is, when most people go car shopping they choose something they can "afford", not something just sufficient to get them from point A to point B. They don't plan themselves any cushion in case bad things happen in the future. So when they lose their job or get the medical problem, there is no financial cushion to take care of the problem, it's just "oops I don't have enough money to pay anymore!"

    That's not about the insurance costs, that's about poor financial planning. But no wonder there's no planning for bad things in the future; the education system does not teach logical money management, only how to prepare for entering the workforce.

    I knew a family when I was growing up that never, EVER financed a car or other major purchase in their entire lives. Yet they lived good. And guess what? They lived good usually at 10% to 25% less than those around them who had to pay interest on their purchases.

    My point is, people need to plan their lives to live without the banks, so that they cannot be screwed over by them.

    June 24, 2009 at 1:17 pm |
  17. geddy2112

    The government bails out these companies when they should have bailed out the ordinary citizan. The economy would jump three-fold if our government did the right thing with taxpayers money. There are still alot of people who will never get out of debt because of what the thieves in the financial institutions have done.

    June 24, 2009 at 1:14 pm |
  18. Fred

    I just have to laugh (or cry) at the thought that "it's OK to commit fraud because everyone else does". It would seem that just because someone else commits a crime, that makes it OK to participate? What a warped sense of ethics.

    I can understand the anger and frustration that accompanies the current financial crisis, but using that or the illegal behavior of others as an excuse to participate in illegal activity makes one just as guilty as any other party to those crimes.

    Have fun spending time in jail when you're caught.

    June 24, 2009 at 1:14 pm |
  19. G

    Not that I am condoning this as a solution but an increase from 96 cases to 130 in a year hardly reflects that our nation has a problem with it's crumbling morality. Take it for what it is... The economy is such that a few desperate people are doing stupid things.

    Let's not call Armageddon just yet please...

    Now if it were a jump from hundreds of people to tens of thousands... Please then, feel free to panic...

    June 24, 2009 at 1:13 pm |
  20. bj

    This is a really dumb article.

    In New York, the number of people who were arrested for suspicion of making a false auto theft report increased from 96 in 2007 to 130 in 2008, according to the New York Alliance Against Insurance Fraud.

    Out of how many millions of people and even more millions of cars? And this is news?

    June 24, 2009 at 1:12 pm |
  21. john Q. Public

    TO "Hmmm... "

    In my opinion, why do disgenuous people like you always suggest "alarms for change from frustrated citizens should be responded to with 'love it of leave it?" I don't get your math. Do you get your math? You r antequated 100-year-old "comeback" seeks to imply "issue raising complainers" are disloyals whom should move to another country? That math is insanity... and dangerous.

    How about MAKING AN IMPROVEMENT to existing society and the antequated systems. I'm not content living in a broken country and sucking BEER and poppong XANAX instead.

    So, you know, your "clever response" is symbolic of the systemic problem in this great nation... quip smug cowards probably stealing "pieces of the American pie" telling concerned citizens (patriots) "if you don't like what we're doing go live in Korea." That's a fraud. Your response is a fraud. That's my opinion.

    So, to me, you sound like a coward, propaganda-monger, positioned to run interference on behalf of a do-nohting, ineffective government resisting any advancement and positive change on behalf of the American people. So, I suggest to you, "why don't you relocate to a lesser nation?" WE DON'T NEED YOUR SLUDGE ANYMORE.

    OR you can try... a new response: "Hey... I hear the legitimate concerns... I'm genuine, and therefore I ACT and DO... not speak... so let's fix the broken systems that undermine our nation and society." that way, we all can stay here and love it.

    That's a professional, geniune response. So, in the meantime, earn your living pushing the "patriot does-nothing routine". It's ridiculous. That game is getting really old and tired.

    I think patriotic citizens DO THE WORK and push to IMPROVE THE NATION they love... Patriots don't tell people looking to improve the country to "go live somewhere else if you don't like the corrupt and broken systems ." Who's side are you on anyway? What... are you a North Korean soliciting political asylum applications?

    So "hmmm..." I say, "ha ha ha"... you're disgenous. That's my opinion.

    June 24, 2009 at 1:11 pm |
  22. Martin Smith

    "When is Obama going to alow people to pay only what they feel is fair on their car payments?"

    You are kidding us right? Why would this be something that the Government should control?

    You signed up for your car payment in good faith and should be completing the contract?

    'Only Pay What You Feel is Fair' on a debt? That's insane!

    You're lucky the bank doesn't hire Joe the Loan Shark to Break Legs!

    June 24, 2009 at 1:09 pm |
  23. sandog

    Screw the insurance companies. I had my house broken into and more than 50K in electronics, tools and other stuff was stolen. It was a legit claim. I have been fighting now for over 3 years to get my money. I paid my homeowners insurance on time and it was properly taken care of. it was a vacation home and as soon as a friend of mine who checks in on the property realized it was broken into I called the cops and filed a police report. I then filed an insurance claim about 5 months later and that was in Jan. 2006 and I am still fighting it to this day. I have received 0 back from them. My insurance policy is replacement cost and when I first filed a claim they told me replacement cost is if an item cost 1000, they will give me 700, if I replace the item and it costs me only 900, they will give me 200, if it costs me 1200, I only get a 1000 and if I decide not to replace it, I only get 700. So all I have to say is yea for the people getting away with it. I have paid premiums for years and the first time I have to actually use it, it could possibly cost me more the lawyer to fight it then the actual claim is worth. So if anyone really has the gall to be on the side of an insurance company let me know. I would love to know how you can explain this one to me. Oh, and over 90% of the new items I have receipts for and the tools were inherited to me, and I told them I can get an affidavit proving I did own that many.

    June 24, 2009 at 1:08 pm |
  24. Boston Investigator

    Old news! The trend is actually down – signidicantly – as media coverage has spiked. These were prevalent maybe a year ago but not much any longer.

    June 24, 2009 at 1:08 pm |
  25. Robert

    I thought about doing this to my Chevy Tahoe about 5 years ago when I was laid off from work, and I even had someone to do it, but my conscious kicked in and saved me from much agony. I worked out my financial problems and moved on. Unfortunately my credit took a hit but my criminal record remains non-existant. My advice says if you have late payments on your car note then your car is stolen and/or torched, you will look mighty suspicious...DONT DO IT!

    June 24, 2009 at 1:02 pm |
  26. SSS

    Those of you with bashing insurance companies need to sign up for Insurance 101 at your local community college. If you chose to have "full" coverage on your 10 year old car and have a claim rendering it a complete loss, they don't deny your claim. They don't "pay you squat." They pay you the market value of your car. Which, by the way, is 1) way less than you paid for it 10 years ago and 2) less than you have paid in premiums over the last 10 years. But you get paid for your damages. If you look at it any other way then you are looking at auto insurance as an investment with a positive rate of return on your money. I hate to break it to you, but it's not. Educate yourself before typing...

    June 24, 2009 at 1:02 pm |
  27. Mimi Adnot

    Whatever happened to personal accountability? Nobody had a gun to your head when you signed papers to pay for something you couldn't afford. It doesn't matter what anybody else is doing; only YOU are responsible for you and your actions. So why bother trying to weasel your way out of your own choices? Suck it up and make good on your debts and responsibilities, whether it "feels good" or not. It's not rocket science: it's a basic matter of what's right and what's wrong.

    June 24, 2009 at 1:00 pm |
  28. MS

    America's biggest problem is people not taking RESPONSIBILITY for their actions. I hate to always hear why it's someone else's fault when things don't go as they should.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:59 pm |
  29. ChazinPA

    I don't think this should be illigal... If you have insurance on something and you want to trash it and collect on the policy as long as it is not a crime (like killing someone), than you should have the rite to do to your property what you like and collect to policy your paying for.

    I wouldn't do it because I'm smart enough to drive nice used cars and pay cash, but hey I can blame those who are trying to better their situation.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
  30. HaveALittleFaith

    To: Whats wrong with this and Good for them

    For all of those who think it isn't such a bad idea to torch a vehicle and isurance co. just takes your money and you get nothing in will be thankful for those "crooks" when you are in an accident. You may go your entire life with out having an accident and yes you might not ever get anything out of your insurance co. But when you get insurance you are insuring a risk, just like the stock market, at times you may loose, but there at times when you will be more than thankful you have it. And those who are torching these cars are not only effecting themselves but they are also effecting you! A insurance companies loss ratio has a lot to do with their rates. If they are losing money by paying out on these types of claims then so are you because the companies overall rate could increase. So think before you support the REAL crook!

    June 24, 2009 at 12:57 pm |
  31. JLK

    Lisa: You can get out from under a car loan you can't afford. Call the bank and let them know you will not be making any further payments and to please have someone come pick the car up. A reposessor will show up and take the car off your hands. It will usually take then several months to actually repossess it so save your car payment money and then buy a used vehicle.

    Yes, your credit is going to take a big hit, but obviously you don't really need more credit at this point. Keep your other bills squared away and your credit will recover in a couple of years and you can still get credit it you need it, it will just require more explanation on your part and probably a higher interest rate. But you can LEGALLY get out of the payment. They will sell your car at auction and send you a bill for the remaining amount, simply call the bank and indicate you will not pay it and they will write it off as uncollectable.

    This is not something to do lightly but rather than break the law and end up paying a lot more in the long run do it legally and take the hit on your credit score (it will recover eventually).


    June 24, 2009 at 12:57 pm |
  32. app

    Rather than torching the car, sell the car at a "fire sale" price and use the money to pay off as much of the loan as possible – you'll still owe money, but a lot less. Better than being convicted of fraud, losing the car, and having no money. Rather than commenting on what caused it, start trying to think of solutions people.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:56 pm |
  33. Catherine

    Dannyboy said, "If you can’t afford it don’t buy it. Simple…soooo simple."

    Agreed, but to a certain extent. Yes, there are many who got in deeper than they should have for the sake of status or whatever ($30K/year millionaires for example LOL). But not everyone in financial trouble got there because of poor decisions. Many of us were doing fine and were able to live decently until layoffs came along. My family and I are going through the same thing right now. We even had a savings cushion saved for such an event and now with my husband being out of work for several months now, that cushion is running low and we are scraping the bottom of the piggy bank just to make this month's bills. I still have a job, but when he lost his, we lost nearly 75% of our household income. No one wants to work with us unless we fall behind. That's the thanks those of us who have been doing it "the right way" get.

    However, I would never stoop to the level of destroying my property just to get out of paying for it. If one or both cars get repo'd, so be it. If we lose our house, so be it. Credit can be repaired, a felony record is PERMANENT.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:52 pm |
  34. linus

    if someone stole a car why would they set on fire? it makes no sense.i would think 90% of these cars were set on fire by their owners or by someone they hired.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:52 pm |
  35. Appalled

    Arson is fraud, fraud is a crime, pure and simple. People steal in good times, more people steal in bad times. I read a few remarks by people who feel the mean and nasty insurance comapnies deserve it. I guess we can start deciding what laws we should follow and what people we should rip off.

    Car arsons are dangerous to the arsonist who often get caught in the flashback, firemen who become iinjured when the various parts explode such as the new bumper compression systems, the wheel hubs as the oil and water boils and fires the metal caps like a cannon, not to mention bystanders, the environment (oil and gas in the ground water).

    So I say you pick a crime you want to commit and ignore the law and I will pick one I want to ignore and we will all be happy?? What a bunch of nitwits.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:50 pm |
  36. T.C

    In these times,people are doing what they think is best for themselves and their families.Don't get me wrong,I don't excuse insurance fraud because we all pay for it in the end.But when a person's situation gets grave enough,they look for an easy way out and even the best of people will deal with the legal and moral ramifications later!

    June 24, 2009 at 12:49 pm |
  37. Maggie

    3 1/2 years I co-signed a truck for my brother against my better jugment because both my sister and my mother talked me into doing it. They told me that they would take full responsibility for the truck if my brother defaulted. My brother stop making payment on the truck after 18months and put 115K miles on it. I had great credit and I wanted to keep it that way being a single mother and all. I traded the car and lost 14k on it and ended up buying a new car which I did not need because the Mazda that I had was fully paid for and had very low mileage. I was advised by my friends to have the truck stolen instead of taking the loss but guess what I did not do it. You know why because I know I would commit a wrong against my fellow citizens, against myself and against God. People need to be carefull before the cross the line of no return. People need not to allow their conscience to become indifferent of what is wrong. I am still paying for the truck in my new car but I do not have to worry about the police and I can sleep at night. However, I would never co-signed for anybody ever. I learned a valuable lesson.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:49 pm |
  38. Hmmm....


    Ummm, maybe you dont understand but i think it would be hilarious to see you torch your car with liability only. You may want to consider purchasing comprehensive coverage prior to torching your car to make sure its covered and it will make it easier for the NICB to track you down.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:48 pm |
  39. walleye

    These crimes are affecting me and everyone else in the form or higher insurance rates. The insurance companies should not pay the claim, and these people should pay a hefty fine. I say, Book-em Danno, and send them up the river for a long time.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:47 pm |
  40. Mike

    This is happening in Chicago as well, but they are blaming it on GANGS!!

    June 24, 2009 at 12:45 pm |
  41. Hmmm....

    Giovani F,

    As Ted Nugent would say, If you dont like America's Society, then get out. I'm sure Afganistan, Iraq, Iran, or North Korea are nice this time of year.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:45 pm |
  42. Hmmm....

    Giovani F,

    June 24, 2009 at 12:43 pm |
  43. Todd

    Eric and Melvin – Getting out of a car payment is not as easy as you think it is. When your car is repossessed the bank sells it at an auction, and whatever it sells for is deducted from the amount owed on the car loan. If the car sells for less than what is owed on the loan, which is usually why the car was repossessed and not sold in the first place, then the owner is still required to repay the remaining amount.

    Everybody always blames the buyer and never the banks that fund these bad deals. Banks are just as responsible for who they lend to as those who sign the contract for a car loan. If they are lending to people that don't have a large enough down payment to make sure the loan doesn't become upside down, (where the vehicle is worth less than the loan), then they shouldn't lend to that person in the first place. The banks are supposed to be the lending experts, yet they continue to fund loans for cars that are really out of the price range for the people signing the loan contract.

    As long as these banks are federally protected they should be required to have tougher rules for buying a car, but good luck with that bit of common sense, right now the government will be doing what they can to make it easy for the most brain dead moron to drive off the lot with a shiny new GM or Chrysler.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:42 pm |
  44. Leif

    These fradulant claims have not just appeard and while in tough economic times they may increase, they have always been here. I work in insurance claims and the company I work for has had special reps to handle fire/theft claims for years. The entire reason insurance companies "investigate" claims instead of just writing you a check is because people try to claim fraudlant claims every day and think because the insurance company is a corporation that they can just yell until they get paid. WRONG!! Premiums are high because of part price costs, body shops wanting to get paid exorbidant amounts, and so many people wanting "parts from the manufacturer," but thats just a whole other argument. In short these fradulant claims havent been spauned by thieving politicians or the economy, its a history of human dishonesty, getting into finaincial situations they can't handle and hoping someone else will fix it for them.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:41 pm |
  45. Staycie

    I own my car outright (2008 subaru impreza), and I only have liability insurance, as i bought well within my means. But after reading all these posts I am gonna torch my car just to bring my no good crooked abusive mal-adjusted insurance company TO THIER KNEES!! HAH! take that little green lizard.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:40 pm |
  46. Brian

    I call Godwin's Law on Bridget.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:35 pm |
  47. LyE

    C'mon people! Cheating in America is now regarded as necessary and acceptable behavior so long as you get away with it and aren't caught. Then you are lauded as a "Success Story" or a person who "thinks out of the box".

    If you get caught, then we all climb on our soapboxes, point our fingers and yell, "Shame! Shame!"

    We have created this culture where the individual comes first and "screw everybody else because they're all doing it too!"

    June 24, 2009 at 12:35 pm |
  48. Giovani F

    And even with this rise is so called auto frauds the real crooks are the insurance companies as they are still making record profits while we all suffer. These companies expect the tax payers to take the burden while we like fools support the theives who created the situation (the right wing republicans) who went againts every once of knowledge we had on situations with global conflict...Bush did everything opposite. I still don't understand why this man is not put on trials with Cheney instead these devils are getting book deals...they should be held accountable from the confirmed lies...the confirmed legislation that made us suffer and the companies of a few buddies prosper...why isn't anyone questioning why Cheney former company haliburton didn't even have to compete for contracts they were just given a blacnk cheuque that they overbilled by a couple humdred million...ALL I HAVE TO SAY THAT THIS SOCIETY IS PATHETIC AND LIKE THE ROMANS WHO CAME TUMBLING DOWN WE ARE ALMOST THERE>>>>I'M USRE WITHIN THE NEXT 25 YEARS WE'LL BE GIVING 60 % OF WHAT WE EARN TO THE GOVERNMENT WHILE THEY GIVE MORE TAX BREAKS TO THE RICH AND THE ELITE...WAKE UP PEOPLE IT'S TIMES FOR REVOLUTION....IT' TAKES A REVELATION WITHIN A REVOLUTION...TAKES A REVOLUTION TO CREATE A SOLUTION/

    June 24, 2009 at 12:34 pm |
  49. jason c


    Are you serious? You think that this has anything to do with God? I am a confirmed atheist and a Pastafarian and I would not consider resorting to torching my car. I find it so amusing when Christians like to blame every bad thing that happens on people not believing in God, and not God himself. Maybe God could help the economy by dropping his usual 10% down to 2 or 3 for awhile. Maybe thats what the true problem is. Too many people giving preachers their money so they can go and by male hookers and meth. Yeah, now that I think about it... it's all your fault Aaron.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:33 pm |
  50. watchdog

    These people committing fraud are shameless. They have forgotten they will pay for it one way or another. Sad they choose to sit in Jail. I have given up a few – called the financing company & told them to come get it. Yep credit took a hit – paying off in bankruptcy. But at least no crime was committed unless you factor in my credit score.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:33 pm |
  51. Jesse

    Some comments tend to minimize the cost of inviting the finance company to take the car back. There is always going to be a difference between the value of the car and the balance owed, at least if the owner is getting out because he doesn't have enough equity in the car to sell it himself and pay off the balance. There is the cost of the repo (some cost even if it is a invited one), then the cost of selling the car, not to mention the difference between the normal market value as opposed to the distress sale or auction price. This is in addition to the credit damage, mentioned elsewhere. You can bet that the finance company will pump up the repo costs to make a profit on them, everyone involved on the repo side will feed on the transaction.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:32 pm |
  52. Hmmm....

    Whats wrong with this?
    "Seems all to fair after insurance companies take your money for years and never give you squat. Get it back anyway you can, they hose you when you have a claim if they can, might as well burn them back. Seems they bring this type of behaviour on themselves with the highway robbery for full coverage insurance."

    Whats wrong with this is its illegal to torch your car and cash settle with the insurance company. Insurance companies operate within the confines of the law, called insurance regulation. The law is written by legislators whom you vote for. you must be dwelling on the fact an insurance company totalled your 1985 Ford Tempo for $800 and you maintain it was a classic car worth 10,000 and the fact that you used your 1985 Ford Tempo as an ATM, borrowing cash against it.
    Trust me, the only people complaining about this blog or supporting the fraud are people who had a claim and it didnt go THEIR WAY.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:31 pm |
  53. shirteesdotnet

    It aint cheatin' if you dont get caught! If Phil Niekro can do it, so can I!

    June 24, 2009 at 12:30 pm |
  54. Jarrod Rager

    To those who think arsen or insurance fraud is an acceptable means to get out of your vehicle loan or get some quick cash: I am sickened by your attitude. First, those who are in loans they can't afford should have to deal with the consequences via legal menas. At one point I sold cars, both new and used, and it was my eperience that getting a loan to pay for a vehicle involved many signatures on many pieces of paper that bind the buyer to a contract. If the buyer doesn't read the contract and understand the stipulations contained within it is their own fault.

    To make sure people don't see me as some heartless bastard, I know there are times when bad things happen to good people. Folks lose their jobs, there can be unexpected medical bills and the like. For these people there are reasonable, legal means to assist in their situation. The problems arise when so many people abuse the system that it can not help those truly in need and not those who just want the easy way out.

    For those who think Insurance is a bum wrap because at times there seems to be inequity with the return of service for premium; think about what insurance is. Your hope should be that you never need to collect a claim. The ideal is that premiums would be paid for 10, 15, 30 years without ever needing to see a claim adjuster. A claim adjuster normally means crisis has happened; a fire in your house, a car wreck, stolen property, these are the things of claims. People looking to make a quick dollar via insurance fraud are the same people who drive premiums up. If insurance fraud didn't exist premiums would reduce significantly.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:29 pm |
  55. patrick davidson

    its a mistake to think your going to get back more than your car is worth from the insurance company. ha! obviously it looses value as soon as you leave the car lot, then as ya add the miles it looses more value. sooo, burning it is just a big mistake and error on the doers part. one would get almost as much if they sold it and paid off what they owed.... its just stupid to burn a car or anything in order to make money from insuance unless ya over insured it. then to me that would be a red flag for investigators to look into.
    the best alternative is to buy a car and drive it till the wheels fall off. its a giddy feeling when you have paid off your car, reduced your insurance to libility only. it so easy to laugh and giggle as you pass others knowing YOU HAVE NO PAYMENTS, its a free ride with only the hassle of maintenance.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:29 pm |
  56. Brite Idea

    Yea, we need more government regulation on this. That will fix it.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:29 pm |
  57. krg40

    listen to you people complain about paying insurance premiums. That's how it works. You know there is risk of something bad happening so you pay premiums. Those premiums go to pay people who the bad thing happened to. If it's you, great, if it wasn't you why should you feel ripped off? That's how insurance works........

    June 24, 2009 at 12:29 pm |
  58. John Q. Public

    JJ: "A few politicians?" What hole do you live in? Our system of government is so ineffective and corrupt it's run like a corporation-for-profit.

    Wake up dude. These desperate acts are not the "cause", they'rethe symptom. In reality, this country's now on the steep decline into third-world nation exploited, processed, and ripped off by disloyals now re-directing their "profit machines" overseas.

    America in decline. All fueled by elitist political cowards whom demand "respect" and "honor" as they oversee a plethora of broken systems deliberately enabled for profit.

    For you to call "the victims" the problem merely serves to redirect the attention away from the source problem: years of failed leadership.

    That's my opinion... and in my opinion, the situation is heading for PURE CHAOS in America. You can't sail a viable society with pirate cowards at the helm as they syphon off all the "booty".

    Wake up dude. Welcome to reality. That's my opinion. What a mess.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:28 pm |
  59. Jason

    Eric... FYI, the "just stop paying" method does not actually work. Once your account is too deep in behind payments, the bank will send someone to repo your car, however you are still on the hook for the loan.

    The bank will hold it's "reop auction" and sell your car. Whatever meager profits are gained will be paid towards your account, but the rest is still yours to pay.

    And you wonder why people are choosing to torch them?

    June 24, 2009 at 12:27 pm |
  60. Patrick

    "King Obama, you listening? Oops…"

    He's not the king... he's the president and your car payment really isn't his responsibility.

    "When is Obama going to alow people to pay only what they feel is fair on their car payments…..Change & Hope

    Whenever companies allow it... and they won't.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:21 pm |
  61. Craig

    Wow @ all the people saying "Stick it to the insurance companies!".

    Auto insurance companies provide a service called "peace of mind". If your car is sitting on the side of the road and a semi crushes it, you're not out of a car. If you injure someone during an accident and they sue you, liability insurance is there to save a portion of your butt.

    These are the basics of insurance. If you don't like what you're paying, don't drive with insurance and live with the fact that you're putting your future on the line if something happens. If it's illegal to do so in your state, don't blame the insurance companies, blame your state. This is all coming from a young male that gets shafted for mandatory insurance in his state.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:20 pm |
  62. Jean

    Joanna-I agree with you. It's scary the number of people driving with no insurance. My husband was recently involved in an accident. He was hit head on by a can that was rear ended by a pickup truck. The truck had the bare minimum insurance required and the van's had lapsed. My husband was only one not at all responsible for the accdient and yet the only one with proper insurance. So guess who's insurance has to pay for our totaled car, etc? That's right, our own. We don't have anyone else to go after. People get insurance and then either or let it lapse until they have to renew their registration.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:19 pm |
  63. Mattdaddy

    It's not as easy as you would think to get out of a car loan. Sure you can stop making the payments and let them repo the car. Sounds great, until you realize that the lender will take that car to auction and sell it for as much as they can, then charge YOU for the difference between what they made and what was still owed on the note by you. And this debt will remain open and collectors will hound you until you either pay it or die, which ever comes first. 🙂

    June 24, 2009 at 12:18 pm |
  64. jj

    If you think insurance companies keep all your premium, you're wrong. They profit off their investments. Look at their quarterly numbers. Insurance companies pay out on average 98-99 cents for every dollar of premium received. Apparently, ignorance breeds discontent.

    What is fair on a car payment? I'm pretty sure when you buy a car, you agree to the terms of the loan. Not satisfied? Save your money and pay cash OR ride the bus.

    You're not special. You're not entitled to more than you work for. Get over yourself.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:17 pm |
  65. Puck Felosi

    This makes me so angry when average citizens take the easy way out by stealing from the insurance companies. Don't they realize that if they keep cheating insurance companies there won't be enough money for our politicians to steal??? Just imagine, these guys in public office might actually have to get a real job and earn an honest living!!!

    June 24, 2009 at 12:14 pm |
  66. Dannyboy

    If you can't afford it don't buy it. Simple...soooo simple.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:14 pm |
  67. S Callahan

    The bigger picture that should be addressed is living beyond your payments of 300-500 a month when a parent has difficulty buying 150 of groceries a month just doesn't make sense.
    People REALLY need to purchase a to instructs you well how to live in all ways (including financially)...
    It's heartbreaking to see law abiding citizens becoming criminalized because of sad.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:13 pm |
  68. jj

    It is sad and disturbing that anyone would think that this is an acceptable action. In this individualistic society, people need to put their selfishness aside and realize that their actions affect others. You have to work twice as hard to live honestly; people are lazy and put themselves before their morals and values. Blaming your own actions on those of a few politicians is a lame justification for making an unlawful decision. Terrible.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:12 pm |
  69. Nikhlesh Patel

    I don't know when America will learn to really punish properly. This country has been so lax that Russians joke in movies that you can do any thing and claim insanity. We have to come out of religion and start punishing people for crimes they do and if they cannot be punished then make sure that this should not happen no matter how expensive it becomes.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:11 pm |
  70. jeffrey frey

    This shows the state and the gravity of our economy.That is no excuse to break the law.These people need to be held accountable.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:10 pm |
  71. John Q. Public

    In my opinion, it looks like fraud is no longer just for contemptuous unethical Judges and Lawyers these days! Probably, these people are being forced into commiting such acts of desperation because somewhere along the line they were somehow affected by ineffective government and a do-nothing DOJ overseeing a broken civil justice system that acts like a civil rights auction house selling off rights to the highest bidders at great expense to the losers too! It's unconscionable.

    So, in my opinion, prosecute the corrupt Judges and lawyers whom mock any notion of freedom and justice for all as they process their fraudulent "civil procedural paperwork and faulty court orders" with arrogant smirks and winks of the eye.

    Until then, "hey... it appears FRAUD IS THE SOLUTION for EVERYONE... defined by elitist government coward example. Welcome to the new America... CHAOS led by cowards."

    That's my opinion. Leave the victims of such fraud alone. They're only following by example.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:09 pm |
  72. JP

    Yeah, I'm still waiting for Cheney to somehow be prosecuted for the deferred bonuses he got while Halliburton was defrauding the US government. . . Now that's prosecution WE want.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:08 pm |
  73. reggie

    This type of thievery has been going on for years. Our children know about these corrupt politicians and ceo's that steal the pensions of working people, then declare bankruptcy, move your job to some foreign sweat shop where they make even more money. So we blog and still do nothing about this type of activity. We are complacient and lazy and fat and have a distinct connection to a fallen empire called Rome. I hear Nero fiddling....

    June 24, 2009 at 12:08 pm |
  74. Travis

    Eric-What are you talking about???? A repossessed car goes to auction if not redeemed by the owner. The proceeds of the auction get applied to the car loan and the owner still owes the difference if it sells for less than the balance of the loan. Which it usually does.
    Cars depreciate drastically more than homes do.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:07 pm |
  75. Jessica


    Sheesh, why are people so mentally challenged today?

    June 24, 2009 at 12:05 pm |
  76. Jessica

    Carl – why are you people so crazy? Everyday citizens have been getting away with fraud since the beginning of time.

    Pull your head out of the sand, after you step off your soapbox...and take your "King Obama" comments to Faux News forum, please and thank you.

    June 24, 2009 at 12:02 pm |
  77. tj1652

    When is Obama going to alow people to pay only what they feel is fair on their car payments.....Change & Hope

    June 24, 2009 at 12:01 pm |
  78. Bridget Bordelon

    Of course the politicians are going to keep on lying and stealing; after all, don't we keep putting them back in office? They're just doing what we allow them to do. By the way, just because someone else commits a crime and gets away with it, doesn't mean that committing the same crime is legal. The problem with this country and its citizens is that we've become a nation of lazy people with a horribly selfish attitude. The majority of citizens, and non-citizens believe that they are "special" and entitled to whatever they want, when they want it. Grow up people! The world doesn't owe you anything. Be grateful that you didn't live in Germany during WW11 – Hitler would have had a field day with you!!!

    June 24, 2009 at 11:59 am |
  79. Jessica

    I love the "whats the world coming to" comments.

    I needed a good laugh.

    June 24, 2009 at 11:58 am |
  80. Yomomma

    Nope, I deal with this kind of fraud daily in my job. Saying it's just the politicians is just whitewash to make you feel better about yourself. All types of people lie, cheat and steal – from lawyers and ex-cons all the way to the most outwardly devoutly religious. Politicians are just more accomplished than most.

    You back people into a corner, and they will do what it takes to make ends meet. So maybe it is the politicians to blame for backing our entire nation into a corner through stupid deregulation and slavish devotion to the most greedy and uncaring segments of the population. Both parties.

    June 24, 2009 at 11:57 am |
  81. Bob

    I don't even own a car to burn.

    June 24, 2009 at 11:54 am |
  82. Whats wrong with this?

    Seems all to fair after insurance companies take your money for years and never give you squat. Get it back anyway you can, they hose you when you have a claim if they can, might as well burn them back. Seems they bring this type of behaviour on themselves with the highway robbery for full coverage insurance.

    June 24, 2009 at 11:53 am |
  83. brad

    Any theft/total loss insurance claim gets fully investigated and it is very easy to determine if there is fraud. Then the owner not only has to pay back their lien holder for the cost of the car, their fraudulent claim does not get paid, and they have massive fines & a possible felony on their record.

    June 24, 2009 at 11:52 am |
  84. lisa

    I am in the same boat as these people. I would never torch my car, but... i cant afford the car i am in, i cant sell it for the value of my loan and the bank wont work with me. I can understand why regular people turn to desperate measures. It does not make it right, but i can see the temptation.

    June 24, 2009 at 11:51 am |
  85. Good for them!

    Good for the folks that get away with it! Pay them companies for years, never file a claim, they keep all that cash. Then when your car is 10 or more years old, torch it and get a few bucks back without the hassle of selling it. Sounds like a great idea to me.

    June 24, 2009 at 11:50 am |
  86. Roland

    Anyone need a sailboat to disappear let me know. Nothing less than 50', preferably currently moored in the Caribbean or the U.S. Gulf coast.

    Seriously, is anyone surprised at this kind of insurance fraud? Usually its the insurance companies that come up with all sorts of reasons a claim isn't covered (and they are incredibly inventive at coming up with their reasons), and this kind of turn-about warms my heart.

    June 24, 2009 at 11:50 am |
  87. Rick

    Politians like the "Do as i say, Not as i do" way of thinking.

    June 24, 2009 at 11:49 am |
  88. ToddShishler


    Your comment is almost Too naive to be true, I'm really hoping your "every day citizens committing fraud," point was entirely sarcastic. Insurance fraud is not a new concept (I work in the industry.)

    June 24, 2009 at 11:49 am |
  89. Aaron

    What do we realy expect to happen? We once had a pillar to stand on and that was given to us by God. Now we choose to disreguard His words and do whatever we please. This is only the begginning of a chain of tragic events. The sadest part of this: This is what we choose for ourselves.

    June 24, 2009 at 11:47 am |
  90. Joanna

    These people need to think twice, nearly all of them are upside down in their car loan anyway – they will still be getting a bill from the loan company even after the insurance settles the claim.
    I am more worried about the people who are driiving uninsured – the police need to crack down on this practice. It is so easy to get month to month insurance use that to get 'legal' then cancel the insurnace.

    June 24, 2009 at 11:47 am |
  91. Melvin


    It's just as easy to get out of a car payment. Call them up, tell them you're not going to be making the payments and they'll come pick the car up. These people just don't want to take the hit on their credit and they want to profit at the same time.

    June 24, 2009 at 11:46 am |
  92. Andrew

    Its sad that the economy has pushed people to go this far to keep their family afloat..

    June 24, 2009 at 11:45 am |
  93. Carl

    Too bad the political elite are above the law and can commit this kind of fraud without prosecution. It's John Q. Citizen who is subject to the law, and will (rightfully) be prosecuted.

    Imaging the CHANGE we would see if we could prosecute the political elite! King Obama, you listening? Oops...that's the kind of change WE want, not what YOU want, eh?

    June 24, 2009 at 11:45 am |
  94. bill

    In desperate times, people respond in these types of measures.

    I would expect arson and homes being set on fire to be happening also.

    The irony is that these people got themselves into this mess by wanting the "best of everything" and we have had an even worse response by our financial industry. They took the TARP money and helped themselves instead of the consumer like the program was intended to do.

    June 24, 2009 at 11:43 am |
  95. Robert

    The pliticians are getting upset that the public is stealing their thunder. Don't you people know that it's the job of our elected officials to commit fraud and perjury, not the average citizen? We're just here to pay them to do it!

    June 24, 2009 at 11:43 am |
  96. Koko

    I don't blame them at all. Why should our politicians and corporations be the only ones to gain from unlawful acts? If you wonder where they learned it, look at the people at the top of the chain. If they need the money and can get away with it, I say go for it! Welcome to our true society; we condemn the actions of someone but turn around and do them ourselves.

    June 24, 2009 at 11:43 am |
  97. Eric

    Josh – what are you talking about? It's just as easy to get out of a car payment – stop making it. They'll come and take it and you no longer have a car payment! Be prepared for it to reflect on your credit rating tho – rightfully so.

    June 24, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  98. John Conley

    As a former arson investigator I can state that 80 percent of car fires are arson. Most of the cases used to be when the transmission or engine had a problem. Find the car someplace the owner would not normally frequent and the car just catches fire.

    We all pay for this in our insurance because more police and fire departments do not have the resources to investigate. I remain of the opinion that every car that catches fire should be towed to a secure compound and the insurance company and he police or fire department then should investigate. Go to their repair garage, check their finances etc.
    And delay payment. If the vehicle model has no history of catching fire where it supposedly started it is going to be 95 percent chance it is arson.

    June 24, 2009 at 11:32 am |
  99. kat

    Fraud, it's not just for politicians any more! What's the world coming too when every day citizens are committing fraud? Traditionally, it is the politicians and public officials who brazenly commit this type of fraud.

    June 24, 2009 at 11:26 am |
  100. Josh

    The sad thing is that it's easier to walk away from a house, then get out of a car payment.

    June 24, 2009 at 11:26 am |
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