Some people will do anything to make a buck. That’s especially true with insurance fraud where there is no limit to the imagination. Here are some of the most notorious insurance fraud schemes in recent years, in no particular order of outlandishness.
1) Fake dismemberment. Maybe Michigan resident Michael Dubuc watched too many slasher movies. In 2011, he obtained an accidental death and dismemberment insurance policy from the CUNA Mutual Insurance Company. Then he filed a claim stating that his arm had been ground off in a wood chopper. He was going to receive a dismemberment payout of $250,000. But his arm was never chopped off. He was caught red-handed and sentenced to 57 months in prison.
2) Food poisoning. In 2006, Jaqueline Massa tried to defraud restaurants and insurance companies for nearly $400,000, claiming she had food poisoning. She faked medical records and used the identities of family members. The scam worked for 3 years but she bit off more than she could chew and was finally caught by the Insurance Fraud Unit in New Hampshire.
3) Fake Death. It could have been right out of a Hollywood movie. Two women faked a dead person and then faked his death. Jean Crump and Faye Shilling invented an imaginary man “Jim Davis” and then held an elaborate funeral for him complete with a coffin. They tried to collect four of his insurance policies totaling $1.25 million. When investigators got suspicious, the women dug up the coffin and filled it up with animal bones, meat, and a mannequin so it would appear “heavy.” They were dead ducks when the FBI caught them, and they were sentenced to two years in federal prison.
4) Mouse Trap. A woman in Virginia tried to extort money from a Cracker Barrel restaurant by taking a dead mouse out of her pocket and putting it into her bowl of soup. She tried to sue the restaurant for $500,000. She got trapped by insurance investigators after tests revealed that there was no soup in the mouse’s lungs and it didn’t drown but it died from a fractured skull. A jury convicted Carla Patterson of conspiracy to commit extortion and she was sentenced to a year in prison.
5) Burned Out An executive got fired from his high-paying job in Chicago and then planned a diabolical scheme to kill his mother and burn his house down. Marc Thompson put his 90-year-old mother in the basement, lit the house on fire, and claimed she committed suicide. He almost got away with it, except for a savvy fire marshal who figured out that he committed arson. He was sentenced to 190 years in federal prison.
6) For pure unadulterated greed, Sholam Weiss takes the cake. He masterminded one of the biggest insurance frauds in history. Weiss swindled $450 million from the National Heritage Life Insurance Company, causing it to collapse. He fled the country and led a lavish life with piles of cash and young women in Europe and Brazil. He was finally arrested in Austria and extradited back to the United States. In 2000, Sholam was sentenced to 845 years in prison, believed to be the longest sentence in history for a white-collar criminal. In 2009, his sentence was reduced by 10 years, to 835 years. In 2021, he was commuted by President Trump.
We will continue to update you with more outrageous insurance fraud schemes when we see them. If you have anything you want to share, send it to the Email List Company and we’ll be happy to post it.