Internet search queries for “how to set fire” are spiking amid the downturn from the coronavirus pandemic, which experts say is a sign that some people may be planning to commit insurance fraud. Search term data compiled by Google shows that the number of users looking for information on how to start a fire grew by 125% in the last week of March.
Insurance companies are highly attuned to the potential for fraud, but risk experts believe it’s too soon to tell. There was a similar kind of anticipation around 2007 to 2009, “that we were going to see just ungodly amounts of insurance fraud triggered by an economic downturn,” said Frank Scafidi of the National Insurance Crime Bureau, but this never occurred to the scale some projected. They saw an increase in arson activity related to cars, however, where a vehicle would be reported stolen to an insurance company when the owner had a hand in the car’s disappearance.
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