3 Insurance Fraud Schemes That Would Be Unbelievable If They Weren’t True

Insurance fraud costs American consumers a cool $80 billion a year–and that’s just the surface. While many of those who commit insurance fraud don’t intend serious harm, their schemes can have tragic results. At the very least, their crimes tax the resources of our legal system and very likely ruin their own reputations for good.

We value honesty and integrity, and so do our customers. But throughout history, headlines are filled with stories of people who tried to make a quick buck by defrauding insurance companies.
We can’t quite believe the lengths that some of these fraudsters went to, but all the stories we share with you today are true.

The Man Who Didn’t Die in a Canoe

John Darwin’s financial troubles began when he and his wife, Anne, purchased two houses for the purpose of converting them into rented properties. However, the residents of County Durham, England soon realized that their financial status couldn’t handle the additional purchase.

In 2002, John Darwin reportedly died in a canoeing accident. Imagine the reaction, then, when Darwin resurfaced alive and well in 2007. He had been living next-door to his family–who had since collected the insurance payout–since 2003. John and Anne intended to set up a canoe rental business in Panama with the cash, but all they ended up with was prison time.

Dishonest Money for a Monet (and a Picasso)

Would you invite someone to steal irreplaceable works of art from your home? You would if you were Los Angeles opthamologist Steven Cooperman, who asked his friend, attorney James P. Tierney, to sneak into his house at night and steal Claude Monet’s “Customs Officer’s Cabin at Pourville” and Pablo Picasso’s “Nude Before a Mirror” from his home.

Cooperman’s plan to seize a $12.5 million settlement from the “theft” fell flat. Thanks to a tip-off, Cooperman was convicted of federal charges on over 18 counts that included conspiracy and wire fraud. Tierney, too, was convicted on multiple charges.

Ironically, Tierney’s former girlfriend Pamela Davis was awarded $520,000 for alerting authorities.

Murphy’s Law Strikes, With Deadly Results

Our final tale of fraud is one with tragic consequences–clear proof that such criminal action can spiral into unintended disaster. Mark Leonard and his girlfriend, Monserrate Shirley, had a fool-proof plan: rig volatile gas to their microwave, cause an explosion that would burn their house to ashes and collect the insurance money to cover their debts.

However, their plan of destruction worked too well. The explosion destroyed Leonard and Shirley’s home, but also that of their neighbors, a couple who lived next door. Tragically, both neighbors died in the blaze, and many other houses in the area caught fire. Leonard and Shirley were swiftly taken to jail, but no amount of justice can account for the lives they senselessly took.

Now that we’ve spent some time talking about illegitimate insurance claims, let’s talk about the reason why insurance exists in the first place.
With decades of experience as public adjusters in Philadelphia, we at Citiwide Adjusters have helped thousands of property owners right themselves after their lives are turned upside down by property damage. Your insurance payments are meant to help you should the worst happen, and our public claims adjusters make sure that Philadelphia and New Jersey residents receive what they signed up for.
You won’t find any deception here. Our reputation for ethical, honest business is just one reason you should call Citiwide Adjusters for help with your insurance claim.


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* Philadelphia Better Business Bureau


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