DES PLAINES, Ill. - The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) released a video today detailing how imagery from the Geospatial Intelligence Center Program (GIC) helped to identify and provide vital evidence related to a disaster fraud case in Marshalltown, Iowa.
In July 2018, the small town of Marshalltown was devastated by a tornado. As the recovery process began and residents began filing claims, NICB received an anonymous tip about a fraudulent claim.
"Marshalltown resident Deborah Specht allegedly filed a claim, telling her insurer that the tornado destroyed the hot tub outside her home," said NICB supervisory special agent, Gus Hitz. "The anonymous tip made via the tip line said that simply wasn't true."
Following any major disaster, the GIC responds by taking high-resolution aerial images of the damage as soon as it's safe to fly. Within 24 hours of the aircraft touching down, imagery is uploaded and shared with member insurers - helping them speed up the recovery process for customers. "I meet regularly with NICB fraud agents to better understand how the GIC can provide innovative technology for evidence to fight fraud after disasters like the Marshalltown Tornado," said Director of Catastrophe Response, Richard Butgereit.
"We were able to review before and after imagery from the GIC of the exact location of the hot tub. What it showed was that the hot tub was actually in very good condition," continued Hitz. "Those images and a really good investigation by the Department of Insurance in Iowa led to an arrest of the claimant for felony insurance fraud."
In July 2019, following an investigation by the Iowa Insurance Division's fraud bureau in cooperation with the Marshalltown Police Department and NICB, Specht was charged with one count of fraudulent submissions and one count of theft in the first degree.
It's important to note that even though Specht was charged, however, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in the court of law.
REPORT FRAUD: Anyone with information concerning insurance fraud or vehicle theft can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 800.TEL.NICB (800.835.6422)or submitting a form on our website.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL INSURANCE CRIME BUREAU: Headquartered in Des Plaines, Ill., the NICB is the nation's leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to preventing, detecting and defeating insurance fraud and vehicle theft through data analytics, investigations, learning and development, government affairs and public affairs. The NICB is supported by more than 1,300 property and casualty insurance companies and self-insured organizations. NICB member companies wrote over $496 billion in insurance premiums in 2018, or more than 81 percent of the nation's property/casualty insurance. That includes more than 92 percent ($254 billion) of the nation's personal auto insurance. To learn more visit www.nicb.org.