Colleton County Fire-Rescue
County Council read a
proclamation recognizing Fire-Rescue Billing Manager Shelia Cochran
for her efforts in assisting with the prosecution of 32 individuals
involved in the largest staged accident ring in SC history. Ms.
Cochran recognized a pattern of abuse and began tracking and cross
referencing names and addresses of individuals from various automobile
accidents. The trend and circumstances regarding the accidents
reflected an apparent pattern of abuse. Over a three year period, the
information was forwarded to the State Attorney Generalís Office,
Fraud Division and a SLED agent was assigned the case. As the staged
accident continued to mount, front line firefighters were trained on
what to look for in the cases, which improved documentation. The
information was forwarded to Ms. Cochran, sometimes while the
accidents were still being worked. As the process continued, Insurance
Investigators got on a first name bases with Ms. Cochran, who attended
meetings with the agents and SLED in Columbia as the boxes of
information on the criminals grew. She was able to link many of the
people with multiple other individuals, which allowed the Insurance
investigators and SLED to link them to others in several counties in
the State. So far 32 people have been convicted of insurance fraud and
the ring leaders is behind bars for 24 years.
With the convictions, the staged accidents have slowed, but are still occurring. The department continues to gather information on the fraudulent wrecks, resulting in additional cases which will be tried in the future. Without mentioning the high dollar amounts the fraud causes, the amount of resources these individuals tie up for the fake accidents compromises Fire-Rescueís ability to serve those with real emergencies. The same applies to the hospital. County Council recognized Ms. Cochranís contribution at the November Council Meeting, presenting her with a nice document for her hard work. She has also received an award from the Insurance Bureausí Investigative Branch and has been invited to an all expense paid Insurance Fraud Investigators conference in North Charleston next week. We are proud of her efforts in the reduction of fraud in our community.