Efforts to cheat insurance companies in Nevada jumped by 26 percent last fiscal year, the state attorney general's office says.
The office received 412 complaints, a record high, turned over by insurance companies to the office's Insurance Fraud Unit in the fiscal year ending June 30.
"You would think more people would realize that lying to their insurance company to obtain undeserved benefits is stealing and is therefore morally wrong,"said Marty Howard, senior deputy attorney general in charge of the unit.
Fraud leads to higher insurance premiums for citizens who don't cheat, Howard added.
Studies show that when the economy is bad, there's an increase in fraudulent claims presented to insurance companies, Howard said.
Howard's office filed 34 criminal complaints, had 39 people arrested and obtained 33 convictions, for a 10 percent increase last fiscal year.
Judges ordered $289,401 returned to insurance companies. In most first-offense cases, judges usually give probation, order restitution and direct the individual to pay the state for the cost of the investigation.
Attorney General Brian Sandoval said the increase in the number of referrals"speaks well for our insurance fraud unit in terms of its reputation with the insurance industry. On the other hand, the higher referral rate also suggests that there are still many people out there who think it is a harmless'beating of the system.'"
The states'Insurance Fraud Unit is financed by a levy on insurance companies.
Over the past five years, the eight-member fraud unit has made 170 arrests, obtained 147 convictions and won $3.3 million in court-ordered restitution to the insurance companies.