The Insurance Fraud Hall of Shame
By Diane Tait
|Image courtesy Pixabay|
Nobody likes to be duped, bamboozled, or scammed. Yet the trend online and off shows that fraud is at an all-time high. Why not? Where scammers of yesteryear had to show their faces to their victims to perpetrate fraud, today all it takes is a click of a mouse or smartphone key to fleece people out of their hard-earned money. So pervasive and widespread is fraud today that the insurance industry instituted what they call the Insurance Fraud Hall of Shame to educate the public on the ever more sophisticated methods being used to defraud the public. In today’s blog, I will share some of the more outrageous frauds from the 2020 list as well as giving you 10-tips on how to keep from being victimized.
1. Doctor Death – Dr. Jorge Zamora-Quezada amassed a fortune of some $325 million by convincing perfectly healthy patients that they needed treatment. After dosing them with expensive chemotherapy drugs, his “treatments” resulted in years of pain and in some cases death to hundreds of patients. While his patients suffered, the good doctor lived it up by flitting from one luxury property to the next in his Maserati and private jet. After his scam was discovered, Dr. Quezada was successfully prosecuted. He is currently awaiting sentencing.
2. The Slip and Fall King of NY - Bryan Duncan led a slip and fall scam ring in New York. He recruited and trained the poor and homeless to stage fake slip and fall accidents throughout the Big Apple. Then he cleaned up by filing false insurance claims and in some cases volunteering his recruits for unneeded surgeries. As a result, this kind of crime netted more than $32 million before his greed caused him to slip up. He now resides in federal prison.
3. You make me sick! – For four years, Jacqueline Massey made a tidy sum by falsely accusing restaurants and grocery stores of making her and her children sick. Her bogus food poisoning claims raked in 6-figures from insurance companies until her never-ending gluttony finally got her thrown into prison for 18 months. She was also required by the judge to pay back all her ill-gotten gains.
4. Beauty is Skin Deep – Surgeon David Morrow used forgery to make more than $50 million by forging medical records so the insurance companies would pay for expensive elective surgery. The way he got away with it was to bill tummy tucks as hernia operations and nose jobs as deviated septums. His fraud went even deeper than that when he stole patients' identities to get paid for cosmetic surgery that never took place. When he realized the jig was up, he and his wife fled to Israel in an attempt to evade justice. Unfortunately for him, the Justice Department insisted he be extradited back to the US to face charges. He’s currently serving a sentence of 20-years in a not so pretty prison.
5. Medicaid Murderer - We’ve all heard of nursing home abuse. Well, this case takes the cake. Sherry Paolo, manager of Second Chance Homes, billed Medicaid for more than $100,000 while systematically starving to death a developmentally disabled man in her care. Even after his death, her abuse didn’t stop there. She stuffed his corpse in a trash can and hid it in a storage shed. When her ghastly crime was finally uncovered, she received a 17-year sentence in federal prison.
How can you avoid getting fleeced?
- Look before you get took. – Before you trust your money or the life of a loved one to strangers, take the time to look up their record online. Unlike years gone by, today it’s extremely difficult for fraudulent operators to hide in plain sight. With a few clicks of the mouse, you can find out anything on just about anybody.
- The devil’s in the details. - Anybody can sue anybody for just about anything these days. Like it or not, there are shady law firms in this country that make a good living scaring law-abiding business owners into forking over their hard-earned money to keep from getting sued. If the threat of a lawsuit is delivered to you via email, contact your attorney immediately to defend yourself. Many of these scams are so poorly drafted that they’re fraught with errors that will get them thrown out in court in a hurry, if they even make it to court.
- Eye in the Sky – One thing that no scam artist wants to see is their crime exposed. That’s why savvy business and homeowners install video cameras to make sure that nobody takes advantage of them.
- Send in the clones. – Make it a habit never to do business over the phone. No matter what the caller is trying to sell, do you know who’s really on the other end of the line? There are larcenous boiler room operations that attempt to purvey everything from tech support to charitable donations from unsuspecting consumers and business owners. If you fall for their patter, your wallet will soon be lightened. Especially be wary of conmen and women who name drop Fortune 500 names, like Google, Walmart, Amazon, Apple Computer, or other trusted brands. Ask the caller for his or her name and number and tell them you’ll call them back. Chances are you’ll all you’ll hear is a click as the call is ended.
- Best Buddy Bait – Even if you recognize the name of a friend or family member on an email, don’t click on any hyperlink until you talk to the person who sent it. That’s because the first thing a hacker will do once they compromise an email or social account is to send clickbait to the victim’s list of friends. Clicking on the link will do more than show you an amusing photo or video. It will also drop malware onto your device.
- You don’t want the services these guys provide. – One of the most prevalent B2B scams involves emails or texts from bogus service providers. If an email or text tells you to click here to initiate an update to your device, call your service provider to find out if it's legitimate. If you click on a fraudulent link that asks you to provide your username and password, it could be a ruse by hackers who want to gain access to your account.
- Some package deal. – Even the websites of major shipping companies can be cloned. If you receive an email telling you that a package is delayed or lost and that you need to log onto UPS, FedEx, or the USPS website, don’t believe it until you call the shipper to ask for assistance.
- Physician heal thyself – Some con artists will impersonate medical professionals or insurance company representatives to try to get you to reveal details regarding your medical insurance. If you fall for these phonies, the only treatment you’ll receive is medical fraud that can result in loss of benefits, bogus charges to your insurance carrier, or potential litigation.
- Bank Account Bingo – Every busy business owner needs to keep a weather eye on their bank and credit card accounts to prevent fraud. You should also obtain a copy of your credit report every year if you don’t want to let online crooks ruin your reputation.
- Pride goeth before a fall. – If you do wind up being conned, don’t get mad, get even. If your shame at being taken to the cleaners makes you reluctant to call the authorities, all this does is make you an accessory after the fact when the con is perpetrated on the next victim. Instead of sticking your head in the sand, if you get burned, post the details of the scam online to your social sites to warn other potential victims.
Diane Tait owns and operates A&B Insurance. To find out more about how you can save money on boat insurance, go to her site.