LAWRENCE, Mass. (AP) – An insurance industry group Monday began posting rewards for information about staged traffic accidents in Lawrence, calling the city “the insurance fraud capital of Massachusetts.”

The Insurance Fraud Bureau of Massachusetts offered up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of people involved in auto insurance scams.

The move comes after a 65-year-old woman died from head injuries suffered in what police say was a staged accident earlier this month.

Altagracia Arias was sitting in the back seat of a car driven by her grandson when it collided with a second car, sending it into a utility pole.

Her grandson and the driver of the other car were charged with manslaughter.

According to the Insurance Fraud Bureau 43 people claim injury for every 100 accidents statewide, while in Lawrence that number increases to 141 people for every 100 accidents.

“This highly improbable statistic speaks volumes about the amount of suspected fraud that is coming out of Lawrence,” said Daniel Johnston, head of the Insurance Fraud Bureau.

Johnston said because of the state’s cost-sharing approach to auto insurance, other Massachusetts drivers subsidize Lawrence’s already high insurance rates.

AP-ES-09-15-03 1421EDT


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