WASHINGTON, April 9 -- The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud issued the following news release:
Insurance-fraud prosecutions in Maryland just became easier thanks to a bill clarifying legal venues in which prosecutors can bring fraud cases, according to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud (http://www.insurancefraud.org/index.htm).
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley yesterday signed the measure (SB 99 (http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2014RS/bills/sb/sb0099f.pdf)) into law. It overcomes a growing technology problem: fraudster use of cell phones and other mobile technology clouding whether the fraud crime happened in Maryland.
"More fraud cases will go to court because prosecutors can better connect a fraud crime to Maryland. Prosecutors have a legal umbilical cord that will land convictions even if the fraudster committed the crime with a cell call many miles from Maryland," says Dennis Jay, executive director of the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.
Suspects can be tried in any county where: a) the insurance loss happened; b) the policy provides coverage; c) the insurer or agent received the false statements; and d) the fraudster received the stolen money.
Maryland thus joins only a handful of states with this approach of venue-clarifying to overcome mobile technology as a barrier to bringing cases, Jay says. It's a potentially effective model that other states with venue problems should consider.
"Prosecutors now can better prove Maryland jurisdiction with a clear set of legally defined venues. Maryland is wisely evolving with technology that has erected artificial barriers to bringing fraud cases to justice," Jay adds.
Swindlers often use cell phones to call in insurance scams against Maryland insurers and consumers from other states. Prosecutors sometimes have a hard time proving a clear Maryland connection to the crime. Courts reject many cases because prosecutors had a difficult time proving an all-important Maryland jurisdiction or venue.
The Coalition joined the Maryland Insurance Administration in testifying (http://www.insurancefraud.org/downloads/MarylandSB99Testimony.pdf) in support of the measure.
"Prosecutors now can better show that a Maryland fraud is, in fact, a Maryland fraud. More states must adapt to new technology's impact on venue its impact on fraud cases," Jay says.