Fraudulent claims for auto accident insurance this year amounted to 310 as of the end of October, 88 more than all of last year, the National Police Agency said Thursday.

The NPA also said 490 people have been arrested or questioned in connection with fraudulent claims, double last year’s figure.

Insurance companies paid out 1.22 billion yen in the 10 months on falsified claims, compared with the annual average of 780 million yen between 1998 and 2001, the NPA said, citing the results of a survey.

Traffic accidents were staged in some cases, and in some genuine accidents, damage amounts were inflated and falsified claims lodged, according to the NPA.

The NPA said there appears to be an auto insurance fraud trend in which several conspirators are involved.

The agency said that in 1999, there were 523 cases of car insurance fraud, with 373 people arrested or interrogated; in 2000, there were 339 cases with 306 people arrested or questioned; in 2001, there were 222 cases involving 249 people.

The amount defrauded from insurance companies in 2000 was 1.16 billion yen, but in 2001 it shrank to 360 million yen, according to the NPA.

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