Saturday, January 5, 2013

Arson for Profit

In doing some research on property insurance fraud, an article appeared on arson cases that were caused by distressed homeowners, which gives some indication that large insurers are seeing a slight increase in arson-for-insurance incidents that may be attributed to a large number of foreclosures in recent years.

Times have changed for today’s insurance fraud perpetrators.  Advances in forensic science have made it more difficult than ever avoid all detection.  However, arson cases continue to occur. 

Most arson for profit schemes are the result of poor decision making by people who are already under vast amounts of stress.  If a homeowner experiences a sudden drop in income, it can often be very difficult to face the reality that their home may have to be given up.  Stressors of this type can easily lead to irrational behavior, including arson.

Unfortunately, this outcome will have a dire outcome for the perpetrator.  Years of incarceration, large fines and restitution orders are often associated with arson cases, and the reality is arson perpetrators are rarely successful.  Faking an accidental fire is very difficult due to the science of forensics, and if a homeowner has missed mortgage payments and is facing a foreclosure, investigators will recognize these red flags right away and focus on arson, or an incendiary fire as the likely causation.

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