Police arrested dozens of people and are in the process of arresting even more for their alleged participation in a slip and fall scheme that defrauded over 21 insurance companies for nearly $400,000.
Officials say the Grand Jury investigation into the scheme began two years ago with the assistance of the National Insurance Crime Bureau, various insurance companies and witness testimony.
Police say the scheme was operated by a local attorney, identified as 52-year-old Andrew Gaber, for more than seven years.
Gaber allegedly ran the operation out of his Center City law office where he was the sole practitioner. Officials say Gaber, who was scheduled to be arrested on Wednesday, committed suicide last week.
Gaber allegedly paid 22 “runners” in the scheme $100 to $500 in cash for bringing in or referring a claim. According to investigators, the runners often staged a fall on a sidewalk, picking locations that had defects that were not too obvious. They would then allegedly go to the hospital or call an ambulance after the fall.
Breaking news and the stories that matter to your neighborhood.
Investigators say there was also a photo in Gaber’s law office that featured a ruler measuring the appropriate height of a pavement defect that was used as an example of a “good spot” to fake a fall.
According to officials, Gaber’s law office operated primarily on referral business, meaning over 95% of the firm’s cases were brought in by the runners.
Police say the scheme also included claimants who lied about falls and injuries to medics and fire rescue in order to deceive insurance companies. The claimants then received a portion of the cash settlements or the remaining amount after Gaber’s 40% fee, medical bills and any liens were deducted, according to investigators.
Investigators say the runners instructed the fraudulent “clients” to call 911 and have fire rescue take them to a local hospital for emergency treatment. The recruited “client” would then go to a doctor for further medical care, according to officials. Gaber would then allegedly file fraudulent insurance claims supported by medical records, witness statements, ambulance records and fall spot photographs.
Investigators say the runners brought in 43 fictitious claims and Gaber settled 24 of those for approximately $382,900 from various insurance companies.
Police arrested 22 people in connection to the insurance scheme. Of those 22 people, 19 cases have been disposed of, 15 defendants have entered guilty pleas and three are scheduled for guilty pleas in upcoming hearings.
“We commend the District Attorney’s Office for its continued efforts to fight insurance fraud,” said NICB Regional Director Gary Healy. “Today’s announcement sends a clear message that our law enforcement partners are prepared to go the distance to pursue those who would try to take advantage of Pennsylvania insurance companies and their customers.”
Investigators say they are in the process of tracking down and arresting 23 additional people involved in the scheme. You can find their photos and names in the gallery embedded above.