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 General’s 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 one of

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-Rescue’s ability to serve those with real emergencies. The same applies to the hospital. County Council recognized Ms. Cochran’s 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 Bureaus’ 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.