Car accident con artists face stiffer penalties and jail time under new law

Denis Slattery

August 14, 2019

Originally published in Daily News on August 08, 2019.

ALBANY — A new law closes a legal loophole and creates stiffer penalties for con artists who stage car accidents.

Gov. Cuomo signed a bill into law Thursday that establishes a Class E felony for faking a car accident with the intent to commit insurance fraud. While insurance fraud is already illegal, there was no criminal penalty for the crash itself.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-Great Neck) and Assembly Member David Weprin (D-Queens), is a tribute to Alive Ross, a 70-year-old Queens motorist who was killed in 2003 when her car was randomly struck as part of a scam to collect bogus medical claims.

“The signing of this legislation closes loopholes in the insurance law, adds higher penalties for those who stage auto accidents, and rightfully honors the memory of Alice Ross,” Weprin said.

The legislation also creates a class D felony if the staged crash causes serious physical injury to another person who was not part of the crime.

“By finally criminalizing staged collisions, this legislation will make our roads safer by serving as a powerful deterrent for a crime that puts the safety of the public at risk every day,” Kaplan said. “Additionally, it gives our law enforcement agencies another tool to fight this dangerous crime.”