Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Scams at their Most Elaborate: Insurance Fraud

--Newest "Hall of Shame" entries put a Truly Bizarre Touch to Con Games

A real down-home hunk of logic, Epstein's Law, tells it like it is: If you think the problem is bad now, just wait till you've solved it.

The investigative arms of insurance companies are perhaps the most effective scam fighting machines on the planet Earth. Their rating for the number of con artists convicted is about the highest for any group of crime fighters. Yet, for every con artist nailed, it seems a more sophisticated scam specialist springs up--to extend their challenge.

From the Archives of the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, here are some examples (from their "Hall of Shame"):

> A self-proclaimed gypsy, a wedding dancer, swallows broken glass. Purpose? To shake down restaurants and other food providers, cash in on their insurance coverage. Says he was seeking a dowry for his sons. But, instead, is serving a 5-year stretch, and will have to cough up $340,000 in restitution.

> Florida gay man torches his home after painting "Idle Fag" across it's front steps--in order to collect the insurance money. and make it look like a hate crime. He gets 18 months in state prison to contemplate the wisdom of this approach.
Say some, if at first you don't succeed, you'll never succeed.

> A New York school teacher fakes cancer to collect the insurance money, then moves to New Hampshire to try a repeat performance. When her valiant struggle makes the local newspaper, she is exposed, and is now serving 1 to 3. A new way to celebrate mediocrity?

> A life insurance agent kills 4 homeless people, and fakes their deaths so he can collect $1,000,000 in insurance proceeds. He's serving a life sentence--more than enough time to pray for forgiveness of his sins.

> New York woman, poses as a Princess, member of the Saudi Royal Family. (This sounds about as challenging as trying to tune a bagpipe.) Finally, pleads guilty to insurance fraud and attempted grand larceny. Must have had a sharp lawyer. She's able to trade down from a 15-year sentence to 1 year in a psychiatric facility.
Almost sounds like political influence. Power corrupts; absolute power is pretty neat though.

> A Manhattan Stock Market Day Trader has an effective scam going, makes a small fortune, in fact. Claims he lost his right eye on 3 different boat cruises. First time is allegedly the result of a sun filter falling off a ship's telescope while he's looking through it. Second claim is for an exploding champagne bottle on another cruise. Third time around, on still another cruise, he is supposedly hit in the eye by a flying toy disc. This guy's luck holds. He's still at large. Sounds like an unusually talented con man, a guy who could probably jump start a car without cables.

> A Texas couple digs up the grave of an elderly woman and dresses her in the husband's clothing, stuffs her body in his car, and pushes it over a cliff. Object? To collect the insurance money, hoping the blackened body would obscure identity. DNA gives them away, and they are now serving a long, all-expenses-paid stay in a Texas slammer. (Why is it everyone seems normal--until you get to know them?)

> Illegal meth lab blows up, yielding $40,000 in insurance proceeds for a man who says his severe burns occurred while he was working in his mother's bakery. Anyone can set low standards, then consistently fail to meet them.

> Doctor performs 750 worthless heart operations on homeless people to collect $2,000,000 in Medicaid payments. Good maxim is: Live your life so that, when you die, the preacher will not have to lie at your funeral. Obviously ignored by this physician.

> An insurance adjuster rams a huge chunk of tree through a hole in his roof in order to inflate an insurance claim.
He is nailed when it comes to light that a nosey neighbor had videotaped everything.

> Washington, D.C. man tries to blow up his father by wiring his SUV to explode upon entry, an insurance "reward" being his goal. But, his brother borrows the car and blows himself up instead. The man is now serving 32 years of hard time in a 6 x 9 cell, plenty of space to think about his mistake.

We can only assume that, if your handle on life breaks, you are capable of coming up with some very zany ideas on how to scam the system to make yourself rich. These examples, we submit, are clear evidence of this. But insurance fraud, like the return trip of a boomerang, always seems to come back to haunt the con artist perpetrator. Pickings in this area of scamery are slim indeed.

Just about everyone participates in mild insurance fraud, at one time or another. Slight exaggeration of insurance claims are common. But when it comes to the elaborate, big time stuff, it's best to have a positive attitude about the con man's destructive habits, and, in a wide arc, steer clear.

Where the blind leadeth the blind, it's best to merely get out of the way.

48 comments:

Gene Kranik said...

I guess you are right. The insurance investigators are about the best. They catch most of them.

Warren M said...

Couldn't this Washington, D.C. man think of a better way to blow up his father?

Elliger said...

I can't get over the one about the guy who wanted to blow up his father. I can't understand that but at times I'd like to blow up my mother in law. I don't do it bcause I hear it is illegal. Some of these insurance horror stories are the weirdest, I suppose because of the usual huge size of insurance payouts.

Terry said...

Analyzing the return trip of a boomerang is most interesting, the way you use it, Jack.

One Time said...

Some of these capers were downright morbid.

Dolcett said...

Now that the election is over I see you are off your political kick, Jack. This insurance fraud stuff is real interesting.

Jack Payne said...

That's it, Gene. The insurance boys take no guff. They usually get their man.

Frankly, Warren, I have no idea of the mindset of anyone who would want to blow up a next of kin.

Yes, Elliger, bizarre is the word for so many of these insurance claim horror stories.

Jack Payne said...

"Morbid" is a good word, too, One Time, in describing some of these case histories.

I'm happy to leave politics in the dust for now, Dolcett. After the long, drawn-out periods of Amerian elections, frankly, I was getting a little tired of it.

Ione Hesber said...

"Why is it that everyone seems normal until you get to know them?"
Great obervation.

Nurse Jen Doll said...

You are right about the insurance investigators, although I think some of them still get away with it.

Let's congratulate the next president of the USA, Barack Obama
www.nursejendoll.com/?p=349

-Nurse Jen Doll

bhavin said...

i absolutely agree with you sir.. thank you for sharing with us this vital information

Lynne said...

Now that the election is over, we're all back to day-to-day realities. I thought your insurance post fit nicely into this category.

McAlee said...

Guess it would take a life insurance agent to know all the ins and outs of killing homeless people and rigging something to collect on their alleged insurance.
I found this tid bit to be the most compelling in this post, if not the most disturbing.

Earl T. Clydson said...

What I can't understand is why would this Texas couple dig up the body of a woman to dress like a man before pushing the body over a cliff. If the claim is put in for a man's death, why not a man?

Irv said...

Election over. Back to reality. Boy, if this insurance fraud stuff is for real, heaven help us all about reality.

Mame said...

Talk about frontal attacks. These people are absolutely ruthless in what they will try.

Swubird said...

Con Man:

I love the one about the life insurance agent who tired to collect $1,000,000 in insurance proceeds. That's like an IRS agent who cheats on his tax return. LOL

Great little scams one and all.

Happy trails.

Dougist said...

(cross post from BC)

I wouldn't recommend it unless you had absolutely nothing else to do, but if you find some time on your hands go spend some time with a Commercial Lines claims adjuster, and ask him or her what they're seeing out there.

For the price of a beer they will tell you of the depths of human depravity... and stupidity since almost all of the dweebs of insurance fraud eventual get caught.

Scott said...

now I know why you told me that there is always something to write about in the con man game. My mind is still boggled at these stories.

Jack Payne said...

I thought that was an appropriate observation, too, Ione.

Yes, a few do get away with these insurance frauds, Nurse Jen Doll. However, I can't quite follow how your congratulations to Barock Obama ties in to all of this.

Jack Payne said...

Nice to have total agreement, Bhavin.

This killing of the homeless to trump up insurance claims struck me as about the most disturbing of all of this, too, McAlee.

Jack Payne said...

This dressing up a dug up dead woman to look like a man kinda stumped me, too, Earl. Makes no sense.

Yeah, Swu, but I don't know if you could really call these "great little scams." All got caught, save for the guy who lost vision in the same eye 3 times.

Doug, the insurance scammers seem to know know depths of depravity. Give them a shovel and they would probably dig themselves all the way through to China.

Yes, Scott, material on con games is endless. I never suffer from "Writers' Block."

Warmer said...

There's a lot of good comments on this thread. Most of them short, but you can see that the subject hits home.

Jane Turley said...

I can see where you got your ideas for the little hotel insurance fraud that Steve Draves has going in Six Hours Past Thursday! Btw; the ending was the right ending but I just didn't want it to happen!! And shoudn't have Brightly and Nina got their comeuppance too? Seems only fair...

Now I have to take you up on that statement that "just about everyone participates in mild insurance fraud" I'll have you know Mrs T never does such a thing! I've only ever made one claim which was when a blowtorch fell on the carpet.... Infact we've set various carpet alight (Don't ask...but it wasn't friction.) but I've only claimed the once because then it was in such a place I couldn't cover it up with a rug without it being hazardous.
Maybe I should be claiming more often?! Now you've got me thinking.. maybe I could take a cruise....

Dee said...

Some of these are seriously beyond the boundary Jack? How does one fake cancer for christ sake? That Florida gay man obviously hated himself. Whack job!

Jack Payne said...

In my book, Six Hours Past Thursday, Jane, both Brightly and Nina also got their comeupances: They got each other.

They're ALL whack jobs, Dee.

Eunice said...

I read your Six Hours Past Thursday too, Jack. Though I am not a writer, I can think of only one word to describe your writing, that's power. And, your book is just about the most powerful out of the some 2,000 or so novels I have read over my life time. That's saying something, but that's how impressed I was with it.

Ellen said...

How could anyone get an illegal meth lab confused with a bakery?

Bern said...

I have a Great Uncle who got dug up by mistake after his demise. The people who did it were nothing but shocked by their own actions. These con artists who do this on purpose must be inveterate ghouls.

Midwest Mom said...

My favorite from your list has to be the guy that lost his eye three times. It reminds me of the old addage...

It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye.

again.

and you pay for it.

(ouch!)

Marla F. said...

I just love your line, When you die, the preacher will not have to lie at your funeral. So fitting.

Jack Payne said...

Thanks, Eunice. Them's powerful words.

There must have been other factors in this "burn job," Ellen.

Bern, you hit the perfect descripion, "inveterate ghouls."

Loss of the same eye 3times? That one was a "stopper" for me too, Midwest Mom. Realy stretches credulity, doesn't it?
And, this guy was the only one of the bunch who got away with it. He's still at large.

Harminword said...

The New York gal, posing as a Saudi Royal Family Princess goes well with the trying to tune a bagpipe analogy.

Karl.Kramer said...

I wonder how many wedding dancers swallow broken glass.

Jack Payne said...

I thought the comparison was fitting, Harminwood.

Yeah, Marla, I thought that line was appropriate.

I don't think swalowing broken glass is a normal part of a wedding dancer's routine, karl.

Ugamibi said...

Who is the fastest with the mostest? That seems to be the question in this league.

Jack Payne said...

Sorry, Ugamibi, but I don't even begin to understand your question.

Terry said...

How the Saudi Princess got off with a one year treatment as a head case I'll mever know. I wonder if she spoke with a Brooklynese accent.

FANCY said...

Hello

*L*...and all I want is to change and rescue the entire world...;)

Andy S said...

The guy who keeps losing the same eye is the one who turns me on. He must be the smartest one of this whold moldy crew, he's the only one who never gets caught.

Artemis Irascible said...

Howdy Jack,

It's been a while since I've been to your site... but entertaining as always.

PS- I started writing by a new pen name, if you have any feedback, I'd love to hear it :)

Cindy Lu said...

I am always curious about people who fake cancer. How do they get away with it?

e-Crave.com said...

While I don't condone anything illegal, insurance itself is the biggest 'legal' scam going.

Nardeeisms said...

If these weren't true, they would have been highly entertaining. For creativity....they can not be beat!

It has been quite a while since I have stopped by. I just love your analogies! This post, alone...was well worth the visit! - Nards

Jack Payne said...

The Saudi Princess getting off with that kind of a slap on the wrist kinda bewildered me, too, Terry.

To change and rescue the entire world is a worthy goal, Fancy.

The guy who keeps losing an eye on a boat cruise intrigues me, too. It would seem this would be one of the more difficult cons to pull off. Why bother?
When there are so many (seemingly) easier cons to pull. The guy must know something we don't.

Thanks, Artemis. Will be visiting you soon.

You've got a whole new twist on insurance fraud, e-crave.

Welcome back, Nards. Missed you.

Too=Too said...

Looks like you swept right up to the edge with this one.

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