Every year, the Insurance Fraud Bureau issues its picks for the Insurance Fraud Hall of Shame. If your image of an insurance fraudster is someone who inflates a claim by a few dollars, think again. Meet the 2015 insurance fraudsters, a frightening bunch of cold killers and brazen criminals who commit brutal crimes to try to cash in on insurance policies.
- Consider nightmare neighbor Mark Leonard and his girlfriend Monseratte Shirley who rigged their home for a gas explosion so they could collect $300,000. Instead, two of their next door neighbors suffered horrifying, fiery deaths. In addition, 30 neighboring homes had to be demolished and 50 more were damaged. A dozen neighbors were injured, and $5 million worth of damage was caused.
- Consider the nightmare neurosurgeon who performed needless spine surgery on patients to get the insurance money. The profile doesn’t say how many hapless victims came under his knife but it must have been quite a few: His bogus claims to health insurers totaled $32 million.
- Consider the nightmare Dad who brutally killed his 10-year old son in a botched attempt to collect on life insurance.
- Consider the nightmare pet boutique owner who tried to torch her store nearly burning a few dozen puppies alive, in the process. Fortunately, she was particularly inept.
- There are more … a crooked lawyer, a furniture store owner, a cop, a Russian-American crime ring – 9 in all.
These are particularly egregious examples of fraud, but the less dramatic “every day” fraud takes an enormous toll on society too – about $32 billion a year in insurance fraud losses, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Businesses build the cost of losses into product pricing, so honest people end up paying about $32 billion a year to cover insurance fraud.
Overall, public tolerance for insurance fraud has been falling in recent years – fewer and fewer people now think of it as a victim-less crime or an OK practice. But beyond public and tolerance, has insurance fraud itself dropped? Not so much, experts say.
Reporting insurance fraud
If know about insurance fraud, here are ways to report it:
- Report it to your insurance company or your insurance agent
- Report it to your state insurance regulators
- Report it to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (800) 835-6422
- More fraud reporting resources