You are on page 1of 3

Burning down the house -- for profit

High living had left Chicago grain futures executive Marc Thompson deeply in debt. In desperation, he torched his home for the $730,000 in insurance money. To make it appear a suicide, he led his 90year-old mother, Carmen, downstairs, doused the basement with accelerant and tossed the match. Now Thompson's own future is secure -- for 190 years in federal prison. Who would burn down his own home, not to mention kill his own mother, for the money? People caught unprepared for the worst recession in 80 years, that's who. "People in small but increasing numbers were burning down their homes," says Quiggle. "Often the houses went up in smoke and flames just before the homes were to be foreclosed. People were upside down on their mortgages, they felt cornered financially, and, in acts of desperation, they burned down their own homes." Lost property claims also surged as the economy tanked. "People would report their stereo stolen; maybe it was worth $3,000, but they claimed it was worth $8,000. Diamond wedding and engagement rings started seriously getting lost. That kind of crime that could net you a few thousand dollars became more prevalent than ever," Quiggle says.

Fake slip-and-falls gain traction

Think the old fake slip-and-fall routine works only once? Think again. Isabel Parker, the septuagenarian queen of the slip-and-fall scam, prostrated herself in department stores, supermarkets and liquor stores dozens of times for claims totaling at least $500,000 during her long career, a sad byproduct of her gambling addiction. Quiggle says gangs have taken a page from the growing staged auto-accident playbook to target merchants big and small for staged slip-and-falls. "They will claim soft-tissue injuries against one business after another, like a skeet shoot," he says. "They'll go from one business to the next, assuming that each insurer will simply pay the claim to get it out of their hair as a nuisance." The gangs figure that since every business has its own insurance, the chances of getting caught are remote. But thanks to the Insurance Services Office, or ISO, which runs an all-industry database of insurance claims, it's easier for insurers who subscribe to ISO to catch gangs in the act. "When you can connect the dots electronically to where you suddenly see one person who has made 15 slip-and-falls in the past year, alarm bells start to go off," Quiggle says.

Vehicle give-ups: Total loss, total fraud

When Houston high school chemistry teacher Tramesha Lashon Fox grew tired of making the payments on her Chevy Malibu, she offered two failing students passing grades to torch her car for the insurance money. She was fired and served 90 days in jail. "Vehicle give-ups were a very large trend when the economy tanked," says Quiggle. It also has become a brazen backup plan for street racers who wreck their rides. "Street racing is mostly illegal, so if you bang up your car in a race, your insurance company is not going to pay," Quiggle says. "One of the scams in street racing is, you wreck your car in an illegal race, but then you claim that it was hit by a hit-and-run driver or you ran into a tree. You can get free repairs or even upgrades that way." Some street racers set their cars on fire or dump them in a lake or river for the insurance money. "Of course, insurance companies have to look at the damage to see if it's consistent with the way the claimant said it happened," Quiggle says.

Top cop arrested for insurance fraud

TNN Apr 30, 2004, 02.18am IST

AHMEDABAD: A deputy superintendent of police of the CID (Crime and Railways) RN Sharma, was arrested on Wednesday night on charges of fraud for facilitating a fake insurance claim racket where natural deaths were proved as unnatural and insurance claimed on them. The racket was busted by the CID which had made out five such cases in the last four months where family members of the deceased, in connivance with the police, had claimed huge sums from insurance companies, by turning natural deaths into accidental ones Sharma , who was supervising the investigations, was charged with putting up a report that exonerated the policemen as well as the family of the charges and stated the cases to be genuine. "Besides he also sent a note to the insurance companies, on his own, asking them to compensate the parties, since the claims were genuine, which he was not authorised to," said DIG Ashish Bhatia. Three sub-inspectors and three constables have been arrested in these cases in the last four months, for having manipulated the natural death cases to accidental death ones, and charge-sheeted them. The cases are from the areas of North Gujarat spread over the districts of Sabarkantha, Mehsana and Gandhinagar. A taluka panchayat president of Mansa taluka in Gandhinagar district, Ishwar Patel, considered to be the kingpin of the racket, was involved in three of these cases, said Bhatia. He too was exonerated by Sharma. Sharma had earlier fudged up investigations in another dead body scam which was later reinvestigated by the Director-General (Vigilance) and the real accused were arrested. This is the second DySP to be arrested, after HK Sharma, also from CID (crime) was caught accepting bribe red-handed by the Anti-Corruption Bureau, some months back. RN Sharma will be remanded to police custody and the case is being investigated by police inspector A B pathan