Meet the 2015 Insurance Fraud Hall of Shame


2015 Insurance Fraud Hall of Shame. Image from www.insurancefraud.org

2015 Insurance Fraud Hall of Shame. Image from www.insurancefraud.org

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:

 

Arson Awareness Week, May 2-8, 2010


The United States Fire Administration (USFA) announces that May 2 through 8 is Arson Awareness Week. This year’s theme is Community Arson Prevention.
According to the USFA’s National Fire Incident Reporting System data and the National Fire Protection Association, an estimated average of 316,600 intentional fires are reported to fire departments in the United States each year causing injuries to 7,825 firefighters and civilians. In 2006, ten firefighters died as a result of arson. In addition to needless injury and death, an estimated $1.1 billion in direct property loss occurs annually.
In conjunction with this event, FEMA has issued a 22-page booklet, Community Arson Prevention (PDF), which includes tips and resources for arson prevention including:

  • 5 steps for starting a community watch program – pages 2 – 3
  • Arson prevention tips for businesses – pages 3 – 4
  • Arson prevention tips for churches – pages 4 – 5
  • Arson prevention tips for schools – pages 6 – 9
  • Wildfire prevention tips – page 13
  • State & local initiatives – pages 10 – 17
  • Links & Resources – page 20

Materials from prior years are also valuable. Last year, the Arson Awareness Week theme focused on Arson For Profit (PDF, 16 pages), covering such topics as vehicle arson, arson in abandoned buildings, property arson by those who have fallen behind on mortgages or boat payments, house flipping arson, arson to recoup monies from a failing business, arson to eliminate competitors or to take revenge.
In 2008, the focus was Toylike Lighters: Playing With Fire (PDF – 8 pages) focusing on the dangers of toy-like or novelty lighters in the hands of children.
In 2007, the focus was Vehicle Arson: Who Pays for This Crime? (PDF, 9 pages).