Fugitive Minister, Damaging Adjustor Among Pa.’s Top Fraudsters in 2006

January 5, 2007

Imagine public adjustor being caught red-handed on an insurance agent’s digital camera causing damage to a home that was supposedly a result of a storm. This scenario involves just one of the criminals highlighted on 2006’s Top 10 Pennsylvania Insurance Fraud cases list, released by the Insurance Fraud Prevention Authority (IFPA).

While the “Top 10” list may not include the largest insurance fraud cases from across the state, it recaps the most memorable and outrageous cases investigated or closed by the IFPA’s 15 law enforcement agencies in the last year. In recent years, insurance fraud has grown more costly and invasive to consumers, and the cases in the 2006 Top 10 list reflect this trend.

With the advisory that a person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty, the IFPA offered the following synopses of 2006’s Top 10 cases:

1. SLIP & FALL GROUP “SLIPS” INTO PRISON GARB – Five members of a group who referred to themselves as “The Family” scammed tens of thousands of dollars from insurance companies through bogus claims.

2. MINISTER ON THE RUN – A fugitive, pretend minister swindled money from insurance companies, stole someone else’s identity and alleged he would blow himself up in front of television cameras.

3. ACE NOT SO LUCKY – An insurance/tag agency was shut down for its role in passing off New Yorkers as Pennsylvania residents so they could take out low-cost Pennsylvania vehicle insurance policies.

4. PROOF? THEN IT’S MY FIRST TIME – A public adjustor was caught red-handed on an insurance agent’s digital camera causing damage to a home that was supposedly a result of a storm. He later promised it was his first time. Sure.

5. TRUSTED AGENT GONE ROTTEN – An insurance agent stole nearly $167,000 of an 85-year-old woman’s life insurance premiums.

6. HAND CAUGHT IN THE MONEY JAR – The treasurer of a municipality embezzled $15,000, and later supplied false information to an insurance company since her bond was revoked.

7. ATTORNEY AT FRAUD – A man submitted stolen insurance forms to insurance companies for fake injuries. He later stated he never received the checks and impersonated attorneys so they would be re-issued.

8. COP’S MEMORY BROUGHT HER DOWN – After she totaled her uninsured vehicle, a woman took out a vehicle insurance policy and reported it stolen. It’s too bad the cop on the scene of the crash was the same one who recovered her “stolen” vehicle.

9. CASE OF THE STOLEN IDENTITY – A man stole an acquaintance’s identity to take advantage of his health insurance, and billed more than $146,000 to five hospitals.

10. INSURANCE BROKER STOLE HIS LAST MILLION – An insurance brokerage firm owner wrote phony insurance policies for eight businesses, bilking them out of more than $1 million.

The annual list draws attention to the fact that insurance fraud is a felony crime, according to the IFPA. Investigators say that some Pennsylvanians think that padding a claim or filing a false workers’ compensation form won’t land them jail time. These misconceptions often lead average consumers to commit insurance fraud and unconsciously commit a felony. In reality, these small actions, paired with large cases of fraud, are costing the insurance industry billions of dollars every year and costing innocent consumers millions of dollars in higher premiums nationwide, IFPA contends.

“Insurance fraud is the crime that you pay for. It costs each American household hundreds of dollars per year,” said Roy Miller, executive director of the IFPA. “We release the Top 10 list to show Pennsylvanians the different kinds of criminals who are bilking them out of their hard-earned money. But more importantly, we want to inform people of the different types of fraud and what they can do to fight back.”

If Pennsylvanians suspect a potential case of insurance fraud, they can visit http://www.helpstopfraud.org/ to locate a law enforcement agency near them or call the IFPA’s fraud tip line at 1-888-565-IFPA.

The IFPA was created by the state to encourage anti-insurance-fraud initiatives. It uses no tax dollars. Its funds, raised through annual assessments of insurance companies doing business in Pennsylvania, provide grant support to 15 law enforcement agencies and for public awareness initiatives.

Source: Insurance Fraud Prevention Authority

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