Providing Individualized, Responsive Representation To Every Client

What is staged car accident fraud?

On Behalf of | Apr 13, 2023 | Personal Injury Defense

Car accidents are sometimes unavoidable, which highlights why all motorists must carry sufficient insurance coverage. However, criminals can sometimes orchestrate accidents in an attempt to defraud insurance companies.

These staged car accidents can take on many forms and are sometimes quite sophisticated. Here are a few common types of staged accidents and they work.

Panic stop

Rear-end accidents are often clear-cut in the eyes of insurance companies, which criminals use to their advantage. With panic stop schemes, a person will position themselves in front of a vehicle that appears to have good insurance coverage, such as a new model. With the help of a passenger, the driver in front waits for the driver behind them to become distracted. At this point, the fraud artist will slam on the brakes and cause a rear-end collision.

Swoop and squat

This type of fraud requires two vehicles. One vehicle (the squat) will position itself in front of the victim’s car, while the other vehicle (the swoop) will follow alongside. At some point, the swoop vehicle will cut in front of the squat vehicle to force an accident with the victim. In some cases, fraudsters may use three vehicles, particularly when driving on the highway.


In a side swipe, a criminal will select a specific intersection, one that has two left turn lanes. The goal is for the victim to drift into the second turn lane, which provides the criminal (who is traveling in the adjacent left turn lane) an opportunity to side-swipe the victim’s vehicle. Some fraudsters even perform surveillance to determine the best intersections for a successful scam.

Congested urban areas have the highest likelihood of staged accident fraud, since these areas have a higher volume of drivers and more expensive vehicles. However, insurance fraud can happen anywhere at any time.