Crooks are always coming up with new ways to scam insurance companies, but this is surprising “unique.” Authorities in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania have arrested 41 people whom they believe to have participated in an elaborate auto insurance scan involving dead deer.
How did the dead deer come into play? Officials say auto body shop owner Ronald Galati Sr. encouraged his customers to stage accident scenes using dead deer carcasses so they would be financially compensated. Since deer collisions are considered “no fault” accidents, insurance companies aren’t legally allowed to raise drivers’ premiums; thus, the customers who participated in the scam were given huge checks by their insurance companies without paying a higher premium.
According to the Philadelphia Police Department, Ronald Galati Sr. ran a $5 million insurance scam from his auto body shop, convincing customers to participate in the scam. When investigators searched the auto body shop, they discovered numerous dead deer carcasses, parts, fur and blood, all of which they believe were intended to be used to stage automobile accident scenes. Those involved in the scam would allegedly stage elaborate scenes to make it appear as if the vehicle struck a deer, at which point an insurance adjuster would check out the scene and assume it was authentic since it contained parts of a deer.
Drivers who were participating in the scam allegedly paid Galati Sr. in exchange for his assistance on staging the scene and creating fake repair bills. Among the 41 charges include Galati Sr.’s wife, two children, several insurance adjusters, a Philadelphia official and a local police officer.
“They actually kept deer carcasses at their shop and would pour deer blood over cars and they would simulate accidents and take photographs that they called Hollywood photos,” said Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams.
Galati Sr.’s attorney, Anthony Voci, could not be reached for a comment regarding the alleged dead deer auto insurance scam.
Deer collisions are a serious problem in the U.S. According to the Insurance Journal, there were an estimated 1.23 million deer-related automobile collisions between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012. These collisions result in the deaths of approximately 200 people annually and cost $4 billion in property damage. A deer’s natural reaction to headlights is to freeze, which makes them a standing target for vehicles traveling in excess of 60 mph on the highways. In addition, deer are often spooked across roads by predators, increasing the risk of an automobile collision.