Westborough, MA (PressExposure) July 16, 2008 -- The depth to which some individuals will sink in the face of a foreclosure continues to seek new levels. The latest ugly trend involves the foreclosed individual stripping their soon-to-be former homes of anything of valueâcountertops, chandeliers, rugs, plumbing fixtures, etc. L&W Investigations, a private investigations firm specializing in insurance claims, has become a regular authority on this ever-increasing type of crime.
âBecause foreclosure is a process that takes place over a period of time, the homeowner has access to the home, even though itâs technically the bankâs. That gives them ample opportunity to strip the home of any thing that might have some value, even though items like countertops, chandeliers and other things that are attached to the home are considered part of the home,â said Neal Lyons, Chairman and CEO of Lyons & Wolivar Investigations, Inc. (L&W Investigations)
Since the bank doesnât physically occupy the foreclosed home, discovering the removal of attached items usually occurs well after the fact. As part of the claims process, the bankâs insurance company will retain L&W Investigations to perform surveillance of foreclosed property to see if the foreclosed homeowner returns to remove more attached items.
Adds Lyons, âThis kind of foreclosure scam has created a whole new genre of criminal. And, it is a crime because even though you once owned the home, as a foreclosed property you donât. Therefore whatever you take thatâs attached is considered burglary and destruction of private property and is prosecutable.â
In addition, L&W Investigations has also investigated other foreclosure-related crimesâ arson, burglaries, etc. Many of these crimes, however, are revealed upon closer scrutiny of the homeownerâs insurance claim and the red flag clues they provide. For example:
● Policy date and date of the fire or burglary â if these dates are within a few weeks or months, thatâs a red flag. ● Occurrence of a burglary followed shortly thereafter by a fire of the foreclosed house. ● Burglaries where little or no damage occurs to the house. ● Economic factors â homeowner owes more on the house or property than itâs worth.
While many insurance companies employ special investigations units to examine these claims, the volume of cases requires the assistance of private investigations firms like L&W Investigations. L&W conducts site inspections, interviews with neighbors and takes limited and comprehensive scope statements (recorded, if necessary).
âYou can feel a certain degree of sympathy for people in a foreclosure situation, but that in no way justifies insurance fraud. Especially when you consider the costs associated with it run in the billions,â said Lyons.
L&W Investigations works exclusively on workers compensation, disability, liability, auto and property claims. With its network of investigations territories across the U.S. and Canada, Puerto Rico and the Hawaiian Islands, L&W boasts a client roster of more than 100 clients, ranging from insurance companies to third-party administrators, self-insured companies to law firms and municipalities.
L&W employs seasoned investigators who specialize in investigating insurance cases and claims. All L&W investigators go through extensive training and have access to the most state-of-the-art surveillance equipment. Among L&Wâs offerings are: surveillance; statements; activity/disability checks; asset/background investigations; and medical audits/clinic inspections.
For more information on L&W Investigations, Inc, you can call their corporate offices at (508) 616-9370 or visit the Web site at http://www.lwinvestigations.com.