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Professional Victims

How to protect yourself against "big fakers"?

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This story appears in the May 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Some scam artists make a career out of faking injuries andtrying to get a settlement. These people typically targetbusinesses with high customer traffic and inexperienced employees,such as grocery stores, fast-food restaurants, convenience stores,theaters and pet shops. Some cruise from business to business,looking for an extension cord stretched across an aisle, atop-heavy stack of boxes or a wet floor with no warning sign.Others create a hazard, spilling soap on a restroom floor or grapesin the produce aisle. Then, just like a stunt double who knows hownot to get hurt, they fake a fall or pull boxes down on top ofthemselves.

After employees come to the rescue, the person's next moveis probably a letter to your insurance company demandingcompensation. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, 10percent of all insurance claims are fraudulent. After reviewingmedical documentation of the "head injury" or"sciatic nerve damage"-typically soft tissue injuriesthat a good scammer knows how to fake-the insurance company islikely to offer a settlement. That costs you in higherpremiums.

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