Teacher, Gypsy, Even an Insurance Agent Make Fraud Hall of Shame List

January 22, 2008

A glass-eating gypsy, a teacher who faked terminal cancer, and an insurance agent who killed homeless clients are among the top insurance swindlers of 2007. These convicted thieves were inducted into the Insurance Fraud Hall of Shame by the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.

Insurance fraud costs the industry $80 billion a year, says the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, and in recent years fraud crime has become more violent and invasive. This year’s Hall of Shame reflects that trend and notes 2007’s most brazen insurance scams.

Timothy Nicholls. Three children died when Nicholls torched his Colorado Springs, Colo., home to steal insurance money so he could escape mounting debt. He owed a motorcycle gang that had supplied him with methamphetamines, and his businesses were struggling. Jay-Jay, Sophia and three-year-old Sierra died of smoke inhalation. Nicholls received life in prison.

Ronald Evano.The self-proclaimed gypsy swallowed broken glass to shake down insurers and business by lying that he found the shards in food and drink he’d consumed. Evano said he wanted the insurance money to provide dowries for his sons. But he won’t be dancing at weddings for a while. He’s serving 63 months in prison and must cough up more than $340,000 in restitution.

Christopher Michael Robertson. The Florida man torched his Lakeland mobile home in part for insurance money, but made the scheme look like a hate crime. Robertson spray-painted “die fag” across the front steps of the home he shared with his partner, then made a bogus claim for possessions he had placed in storage. Many people rallied to support Robertson in the face of seeming bigotry. He’s serving 18 months in state prison.

Candice Lambert. The special education teacher faked terminal cancer to collect disability money from a school system in suburban Albany, N.Y., and then moved to New Hampshire to try the scheme a second time. The ruse was exposed when the teacher’s seemingly valiant struggle made the local newspaper. A New York court sentenced her to one to three years in prison.

Robert D. Wachter. Three Missouri nursing homes run by Robert D. Wachter were houses of abuse and insurance fraud. Residents were denied water, food and sanitation while he billed Medicare and Medicaid for many of the same services. Some residents died from neglect. Wachter received 18 months in federal prison and fines of $750,000.

Richard James. As a Guyanese-American, life insurance agent Richard James had a close tie with the Guyanese community in the New York City area. But he conspired to take out fraudulent life policies on Guyanese street people and have them killed for the payouts. Four street people were killed in a scheme that netted more than $1 million. James and a crony are headed to prison for life.

Source: Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, Visit www.InsuranceFraud.org for full crime details.

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