The Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office received $1.3 million in grants to combat insurance fraud, District Attorney Mark Peterson announced Friday. The grants will aid in the county's continuing effort to aggressively investigate and prosecute of workers' compensation, automobile insurance, and disability and healthcare fraud.
"Insurance fraud costs California's honest consumers and businesses approximately $15 billion per year. The huge financial burden that insurance fraud imposes on the citizens of Contra Costa County through higher insurance premiums and the increased cost of goods and services is unacceptable," Peterson said. "These grant funds and the enthusiastic assistance of the California Department of Insurance Fraud Division Investigators make it possible for our office to continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute all types of insurance fraud."
Funds will be used to pay salaries and benefits of at least three prosecutors and three investigators assigned to the insurance fraud units within the District Attorney's Special Operations Division. Peterson said the D.A. will also dedicate significant resources to public outreach and education to help county residents from becoming victims of fraud.
The District Attorney's Office has utilized similar grants for many years and strives to renew them each year. The county was awarded multiple grants to combat fraud in 2013, including $603,400 to fight worker's compensation insurance fraud, $458,903 to combat regular automobile insurance fraud, $273,667 to battle urban (organized) auto insurance fraud and $20,000 to fight disability and health insurance fraud.
"Workers' compensation insurance fraud places an extraordinary financial burden on our workers' comp system, hurts honest businesses and damages our economy. Auto insurance fraud drives up the price of auto insurance for consumers, and disability and health insurance fraud gouges workers and employers by way of higher premiums," Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said. "Contra Costa County has made great use of its effective fraud-fighting programs."
Peterson recently announced the creation of the Fraud Interdiction Program, which relies on enhanced relationships and information sharing between the health care and insurance industries and governmental agencies to focus on high-level insurance fraud criminals in a non-traditional way: tax fraud prosecution.
"The use of the Fraud Interdiction Program will complement our use of more traditional enforcement methods and allow us to be more efficient in prosecuting insurance fraud," Peterson said.
Suspected insurance fraud can be reported to the District Attorney Office at 957-8604.