Questionable insurance claims increased by 14 percent during the first half of 2010, fueled by a dramatic spike in car windows that may have been intentionally smashed by owners, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
Nearly half of the 7,993 cases of suspected fraud reported during the period were connected to vehicles, with cases ranging from deliberately damaged car windows to staged accidents.
According to Joe Wehrle, president of the group, the increase was less than the 20 percent rise during the same period last year, but dubious claims remain a top concern.
Criminals "try to take advantage of the insurance company's desire to pay claims as quickly and efficiently as possible," he said.
The increase in suspect claims coincides with a decline in U.S. payrolls, while the jobless rate sits at a 26-year high of 10.1 percent after increasing 8.6 percent during the past two years.
More than five times as many car windows appear to have been smashed on purpose in order to generate insurance payouts, rising from 239 last year to 1,498 in 2010. Meanwhile, suspected bogus vehicle accidents increased 27 percent year-over-year.