A program designed to help Iowans combat investment and insurance fraud is coming to three of the state’s largest metro areas. Iowa Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart is touting the Fraud Fighters program (www.iowafraudfighters.gov), noting that his office fields around 1,700 fraud inquiries and complaints each year.
“Last year, we had about $6.4 million reported in fraud complaints,” Gerhart said. There are probably many more people being swindled in Iowa, as Gerhart estimates only one-quarter of all fraud cases are actually reported. Many Iowans fall victim to investment scammers and some have lost their entire life savings, according to Gerhart. “When oil and gas are doing really well, we hear a lot of oil and gasoline (scams). When precious metals and gold are going up in value, we hear a lot of scams around that. During tax season, we hear about tax scams. And during open enrollment for health care, we hear about that kind of thing,” Gerhart said.
The Iowa Insurance Division has hosted 15 of the Iowa Fraud Fighter programs around the state, but the biggest one — in terms of attendance — is scheduled for tonight (Tuesday) in West Des Moines. Registration for tonight’s event closed last Friday. “But, we are doing another event in Bettendorf (on April 18) and we have another event in Sioux City (on May 24),” Gerhart said. “So, we have other opportunities across the state as well.”
All of the Iowa Fraud Fighters programs are free of charge, but do require reservations. Gerhart says the effort is funded partly from fines and settlements collected from scammers.