09 Mar How dumb are fraudsters?
Being in the business of insurance, we bristle at any act of fraud. We all pay for it. On some occasions, though, the perpetrator is so dumb that their apprehension is good for a laugh. Most often, however, those who cold-heartedly perpetrate insurance fraud are beyond contempt. Many of these offenders are featured on the web site www.insurancefraud.com, a service of the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud. So who made their list of the Eight Worst Insurance Criminals of 2014?
The Long Injured Arm of the Law
rock bandChristopher Inserra, a 32 year-old New York Port Authority police officer submitted a claim for a disabling injury he sustained while taking a fellow employee to a medical facility. What a selfless act! According to the web site, his department gave him time off to recuperate at full salary plus disability benefits. He explained that the pain was so severe in his right arm that his appendage was all but useless from the bicep to his elbow.
Now, knowing that the criminal mind is not always the sharpest tool in the drawer, this disabled law enforcement officer was an exceptional performer – in a band! Aptly named “Cousin Sleaze”, Inserra’s band not only performed far and wide BUT they posted video of their gigs on YouTube. Prominently featured as the lead singer, Inserra can be seen gyrating, fist pumping and wowing the crowd. All that enthusiasm was well funded by more than $30,000 in disability checks from AFLAC according to the New York Post. In addition, he collected nearly $180,000 in salary over two years before being caught.
So what was the potential penalty for this rip-off artist? It started with as much as 20 years in prison but a plea deal suggested no more than 14 months in jail with restitution to AFLAC of the $30,000. So what actually happened at sentencing? A lenient judge sentenced Inserra to only five years of probation, AFLAC restitution and $39,000 in fines. Not the outcome we should expect.
The Million Dollar Car Wash
A Texas dealer of exotic high-performance sports cars apparently thought a little extra water on one of his vehicles would produce a better shine – in the form of ill-gotten gold. Andy House, 39, acquired what is thought to be the fastest street-legal sports cars in the world; a Bugatti Veyron that cost him in excess of $1.6 million for the 1,000 hp land rocket that blisters the tar at 250 mph. Thinking that no one would notice, House increased the insurance coverage on the car to $2.4 million about a month prior to driving it deliberately off a dirt road into a salt marsh adjacent to a major highway. House claimed he had to swerve to avoid a bird in the road.
Now a car of such unusual design easily caught the eye of a passenger riding along the parallel highway. Dreaming that the Bugatti would be his dream ride, the voyeur was taping when House eased off the road and splashed into the salt march. No bird. No swerve. All on video. The hip young phone photographer then did what any young lad would these days – he posted it on the web. After more than 4 million views, the FBI was called in and nailed House for insurance fraud. No sentence has been rendered at this time though the crime could draw 20 years in federal prison.
The Top Eight list also covers the darkest and most heinous acts of fraud – faked illnesses, poisoning by a doctor, marriage with the intent of murder, murder in the course of arson, bogus surgeries and staged crashes.
Insurance fraud is a straight pass-through to all of us in the form of higher-than-necessary premiums. According to the FBI, insurance fraud amounts to an estimated $40 billion, with a “b”, every year and adds $400 to $700 per year in the form of increased premiums to American households. In reading the stories of these fraudsters, the human toll is even greater for the victims.
If you believe there is insurance fraud, report it to the Maine Bureau of Insurance (1-800-300-5000) or the New Hampshire Insurance Department Fraud Unit. Beating the bad guys starts with each of us.