It's time to unveil the newest dishonorees of the Insurance Fraud Hall of Shame; the perpetrators of the year's most brazen, vicious or just plain klutzy insurance misadventures. All of these extreme schemers were convicted or had other legal closure in the last year.
The No-Class of 2015 adds new extreme schemers to the pantheon of purloining created by the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud. The newest moguls of mayhem blew up neighborhoods, conducted painful quack surgery on healthy people and tried to kill puppies as part of their efforts to defraud insurers.
Recounting such real-life cases helps to shape public opinion against fraud and deter would-be fraudsters while building greater societal intolerance of the crime. The shamers thus publicly brand insurance fraud as a deviant crime and dead-end street.
Their plots attract consumer attention in an era of extreme message overload. Consumers are exposed to about 360 ads per day, receive 93 emails and spend 593 minutes a day on various media. Typical social-media users also consume 285 pieces of content daily. That's 54,000 words, and as many as 1,000 clickable links plus about 443 minutes of video.
The shamers are highly clickable, year in and year out. Here are this year's entrants to the Hall of Shame.
Stuck with gambling habits and debts, Leonard wanted to burn down his home for a $300,000 insurance payday. He botched the plot. The gasoline and escaping natural gas he built up exploded like a drone strike. The blast leveled much of the Indianapolis subdivision, causing causing $5 million in damage. It was one of the most-violent insurance arsons in U.S. history.
Dion and Jennifer Longworth lived next door. Jennifer died when the second floor pancaked, and Dion was burned alive in the basement. Dozens of other neighbors were injured. Leonard received life without parole.
Fraud fighters took down the largest no-fault auto scheme ever charged. It was an attempted $279 million thievery from auto insurers. Zemlyansky's fraud cartel made dodgy injury claims involving real and phantom car wrecks in the New York City area. Most operatives were of Russian descent.
Among his gang members were 10 doctors and three lawyers helping to run an archipelago of sham clinics. Patients were given rubber-stamped “modality treatments” which included physical therapy or acupuncture, often up to five times a week for each patient.
Zemlyansky's gang also billed insurers for fake crashes. Personal injury lawyers sued insurers after coaching patients on how to mimic symptoms of injuries. Most of his gang pleaded guilty. Zemlyansky awaits sentencing and could receive a century in prison. (See the September 2015 issue of Claims for the full story on Zemlyansky.)
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