Insurance fraud: It's big business victimizing thousands of people each year

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Insurance fraud is big business victimizing thousands of people each year. But even if you don't fall for the scam, you're still paying for it.

For year, Frenchitt Collins worked as a legitimate insurance adjuster trying to attract clients with catchy advertisements.

"He got an institutional understanding of how the chiropractic business worked. Once he felt knowledgeable enough, he filed fraudulent claims with numerous insurance companies," said Jan Bodon, U.S. Postal Inspector.

Collins set up a bogus chiropractor's office using P.O. boxes and turned to friends and family to get the scheme started.

"He would go ahead and offer them $100 or $200 in order to be able to use their identifiers. Once he had that information he would go ahead and complete the medical forms necessary and send them to the insurance companies," said Bodon.

Insurance companies would then send checks -- lots of them.

"Those P.O. boxes were rented by him (Collins), his wife, his brothers, or his girlfriends," said Bodon.

The goal of the ads was to lure in more victims.

"That added legitimacy to his scheme. Victims went and actually dialed his number, provided the identifiers and he went ahead and submitted the fradulent claims," said Bodon.

Federal officials say insurance fraud is a $30 billion business in the U.S.

"It is very lucrative for the criminal to perpetrate the crime because it`s low risk and it`s high reward and they know that," said Fred Lohmann of the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

Collins was sentenced to 15 years in prison -- and to pay more than $700,000 in restitution to his victims. Losses in this story are passed on to all consumers who buy insurance. One way to avoid unwittingly becoming part of one of these insurance scams, do not give your social security number unless you are sure you are dealing with someone legitimate.