By BRUCE SMITHAssociated PressInsurance fraud complaints in South Carolina have reached an all-time high with more than 1,200 pouring in last year, according to a report released Friday by Attorney General Alan Wilson. The annual report from his office's Insurance Fraud Division noted attorneys prosecuted cases that resulted in 37 convictions and in more than $700,000 being returned to the victims of insurance fraud.The report cites several notorious cases. In one Darlington County case, three defendants sought payment from a health insurance company claiming they each had all four limbs amputated. None of the defendants had lost their limbs and one was convicted and sent to prison for 18 months. Restitution of more than $60,000 was made to the insurance company. In another case from the same county, a woman using a stolen credit card got an insurance policy worth $100,000 on home she did not own or live in and conspired with a man to burn it down. The scheme was discovered before the house could be torched, the woman pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years in prison."Insurance fraud continues to drain our system and raise premiums for our citizens. We must send the message that it is not tolerated in South Carolina," Wilson wrote in the report.Almost three quarters of the complaints received last year involved automobile insurance fraud. Fraud involving property was next accounting for about 17 percent of the complaints.The report noted that the most complaints about insurance fraud came from Richland County with 159, following by Greenville County with 86 and Charleston County with 77. Since 1995, the first year the Insurance Fraud Division was operating, almost 14,000 insurance fraud complaints involving almost $110 million have been received by the state Attorney General's office.During the period there have been almost 1,400 criminal convictions while restitution was made in almost 800 cases through civil courts.Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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