The highway billboards are loud:Â â€œInsurance fraud costs you $1300 every year.â€Â You are invited to visit www.njinsurangcefraud.org. Â When you get there, you will discover you have been redirected to the NJ state government website, office of the attorney general.
Itâ€™s a great public relations campaign. Â How the OAG calculated $1,300 per year in losses is not so clear. Â A review of the ad series says that itâ€™s $1300 per family. Â According to the US Census, NJ has 3.2 million households.Â That works out to $4 billion in fraud every year. Â Thatâ€™s a chunk of change worth employing a hundred investigators and attorneys in the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor.Â Each employee should be chasing $41 million in fraud.
Billboards promise prison time for fraudsters. Â Health care fraud brings the stiffest penalties, with penalties as high as 5-10 years and up to five times the amount benefit sought. Â Steve Adubato interviews.
How serious is the state about chasing these crooks â€“ besides the billboards and TV ads? Â Whistleblowers are invited to write, call, or type their stories into the state website. Â The state offers a certain amount of protection from a whistleblower, but in the overall scheme of things, itâ€™s not much.Â When you turn on an employer â€“ and who else will have access to enough data to seal up a case? â€“ youâ€™ve given up that job.Â Chances are, you’ve given up a career in that industry.Â After all, who wants to hire a troublemaker?Â New Jersey offers you a reward of up to $25,000, IF the case results in a conviction.Â To get that conviction, you will probably be called on to testify, to attest to the veracity of the documents you provided.Â Itâ€™s not as if $25,000 will take care of you in your extended period of unemployment.
If there were really $4 billion in fraud that the attorney generalâ€™s office could catch, the NJ Legislature would be giving the OAG more tools to catch the crooks: more reward money and a bigger staff.Â Instead it proposes and discusses making a state animal abuser registry.