SPECIAL REPORT: Fake insurance cards on the rise

Anyone who's ever been pulled over knows the first question law enforcement asks: "May I see your driver's license, registration, and insurance please."

When you hand over your license, the officer runs it through a database to make sure it's valid.  But what about your insurance card?

At a traffic stop, there's no real-time way for law enforcement to detect whether an insurance card is fraudulent.  "Right, I don't have a database to put that card in," says Lt. Greg Bueno of Florida Highway Patrol.

According to the state department of financial services, more and more criminals are taking advantage.

"I'm seeing a lot more tips on it. I'm getting a lot more complaints from the DMV. I'm getting a lot more complaints from the insurance industry," says Lt. Carlos Rosario says the fake cards look just like the insurance card you have in your wallet or in your glove box.

And people are buying the fake cards online.  For example, investigators say 48-year-old Jordan Rogers sold six fake insurance cards to undercover detectives in Pinellas Park.
He posted an ad on Craigslist reading: "Do you need proof of car insurance? I can help, so you don't get another ticket for driving without insurance. This is only proof of insurance, not actual insurance."

And Rogers is just one of many accused of doing this in Florida.  says Lt. Rosario.

And the people buying these insurance cards are usually looking for a frugal fix if they get pulled over.  "I didn't have the money for a real policy, or it was cheap and quick and I didn't feel like paying," says Rosario.

The Insurance Information Institute says more than 20% of Florida drivers drive without car insurance.  "It's quite prevalent at traffic stops that we do see that," says Lt. Bueno.

He says at a crash scene or traffic stop that he and other troopers check the cards as best they can.  "The next step I would do is just make sure that this insurance card is indeed assigned to the vehicle we have pulled over."

He tells Fox 4 that if someone knowingly drives around with a fake proof of insurance card, it's a misdemeanor. Your license could be suspended and you could face jail time.

But it's a crime that costs all of us.  "If you have an accident with somebody who doesn't have legitimate insurance, your insurance company is going to pick up the tab for that. That's where it's hurting us. It's hurting us with the higher premiums," says Rosario.
 

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