In 1993, the Coalition against Insurance Fraud was established as “the nation’s only anti-fraud watchdog that speaks for consumers, insurance companies, legislators, regulators, and others.” Throughout the years, they’ve helped enact stronger anti-fraud laws, and have educated the public about schemes and scams perpetuated on both insurance companies and average individuals. Since 2002, they’ve presented a yearly “Insurance Fraud Hall of Shame” as part of their disseminated information. Here are some of the most notorious examples from the ridiculous to the creative to the idiotic to the downright heinous:
In 2006, a woman in Newport News, Virginia claimed that she found a dead mouse in a bowl of vegetable soup at a Cracker Barrel restaurant. After the woman demanded $500,000 from the restaurant’s insurer, the restaurant chain had the dead mouse examined. It was determined that there was no vegetable soup in the dead mouse’s lungs. The fraudster was sentenced to a year in prison.
Lisa Walker, one of the more creative insurance fraudsters, passed herself off to New York high society as Princess Antoinette, a member of the Saudi royal family. She pulled this scam off by living on a no-limit American Express Centurion credit card. She bought expensive jewelry with the card. In 2004, she contacted her insurance company and claimed that she had been mugged and $262,000 worth of her insured jewelry was taken. When her scam was revealed, she had racked up close to $1 million in debts from her American Express card. Walker’s lawyers pled mental illness and she was sentenced to a one year stay in a mental hospital.
In 2005, a Texas couple went to a cemetery and dug up an elderly woman’s corpse, dressed it in the husband’s clothes, stuffed the body into their car, and pushed the car off a cliff. When the “widow” tried to claim $110,000 in life insurance, the insurance company suspected a scam – especially when the husband re-appeared in disguise as the couple’s “son.”
The Downright Heinous
In 2006, a New York City dermatologist bribed drug addicts with narcotics in return for allowing him to use their names to bill insurers for skin surgeries that never happened. He “performed” nearly 2,000 of these “surgeries.” When he was finally caught, the doctor was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.
The Even More Callous
A Chicago options trader set his own house on fire to collect the insurance money. Even more callous, he put his 90-year-old mother in the basement and staged the fire to lead authorities to believe that his mother had started the blaze in a suicide. The fraudster was given a life sentence.