First up, from Timeline:
Jumping in front of cars for insurance money helped some 1920s immigrants achieve the American Dream
Flopping was, and is, a lucrative business
A bus swerved to avoid a boy who had been ‘knocked down’ in the road in 1912. (Getty Images
America is the land of the free — and the home of people suing each other over frivolous lawsuits. This is the country where a woman once planted a severed human finger in a bowl of Wendy’s chili — and then tried to sue the fast food chain. The woman was later arrested — but initially thought she could get away with her ‘chili-finger’ scam, because suing people is such a way of American life. That’s why the culture of ‘floppers’ is a clever criminal enterprise.As they’re known in the trade, floppers, flim-flam-floppers, or flop artists have been a thorn in the side of insurance companies since the 19th century. As mentioned in the book Accidentally, on Purpose, one of the first documented slip-and-fall artists was a woman known as Banana Anna, who would plant banana peels on steam trains, “slip” on them, and fake injuries to rake in insurance money.The 1950 report Exposing the Fake Claim Racket described a flopper as someone who’d “scout certain parts of a city for openings or defects best suited for causing an ‘accident,’ such as an open cellar door, a broken step, a defective sidewalk coal chute cover, or a broken vault light. Locating such a spot, the flopper will purposely get his foot wedged in a jagged crevice and pretend to fall.”
Jim Quiggle, director of communications for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud says, “Flops are so easy to create. It requires so little expertise. How much skill does it take to sit on the floor and cry bloody murder at the top of your lungs?”In the early 20th century, when New York was the promised land for those who newly arrived via Ellis Island, the story of floppers reads like an immigrant American dream.In fact, the 1920’s were the Golden Age of flopping. And one of the masters of the form was a man named Daniel Laulicht, who along with his brother Benjamin ran the biggest flopper ring in New York City. Laulicht grew up a poor immigrant in the Lower East Side. According to city records, Laulicht was first arrested for flopping back in 1918, but that was just the beginning. Laulicht eventually became a flopping tycoon. Like something out of Once Upon a Time in America, at the height of his flopper ring, Laulicht had more than 30 people on the payroll, ranging from rogue doctors and lawyers to taxi drivers and so-called “victims.” Together they orchestrated scams citywide, to the point that the actual flopping part wasn’t even necessary....MORE
And from Ideas, Inventions and Innovations:
Insurance fraud seems like it might be an easy thing to do. Insurance companies are often so huge, one wonders how they might not even notice a few mistakes in your favor. But the fact is that insurance companies have people who make it their full time job to sniff out fraud, ensuring that they keep a tight bottom line. And while they may not catch every tiny little fudge, you can be sure they are on the hunt for major offenders such as the ones on this list. Check out these famous insurance fraud cases that surely carried a huge bounty.
- HCA/Medicare: In 2000 and 2002, HCA pleaded guilty to 14 felonies, including fraudulently billing Medicare as well as other programs. HCA had inflated the seriousness of diagnoses, filed false cost reports, and paid kickbacks to doctors to refer patients. HCA had to pay the US government $631 million plus interest, as well as $17.5 million to state Medicaid agencies, on top of $250 million already paid to Medicare for outstanding expense claims. It was the largest fraud settlement in US history, with law suits reaching $2 billion in total.
- John Darwin's Death: John Darwin faked his death in a canoeing accident, turning up five years later. He'd been secretly living in his house and the house next door, while his wife claimed the money on his life insurance. They were both sentenced to six years in prison, but released on probation. BBC created a TV drama about their story called Canoe Man.
- The horse murders scandal: Between the mid 1970s and mid 1990s many expensive horses were involved in insurance fraud. These expensive horses, often show jumpers, were placed on insurance for accident or death, and killed for the insurance money. The number of horses killed in this manner is believed to be at least 50 and possibly as high as 100. It was the biggest scandal in equestrian sports, resulting in the death of a whistleblower, Helen Brach, in addition to the horses.
- John Mango's fire: A Toronto businessman, John Mango hired someone to set fire to his business for the insurance money. Things got quite out of hand, killing one person during the fire and forcing many families to leave the area until the fire could be put out. Mango was charged with second degree murder on top of his fraud charges.
- Swoop and squat: In the 90s, car insurance fraud ran rampant. Cars would purposely get into accidents with innocent people on the road, hoping to score insurance money, and often, they did. These accidents frequently injured drivers, and some were even fatal. These accidents usually earned the orchestrators about $20,000 each.
- Michael Jackson's prescriptions: Lloyds of London has recently filed suit to invalidate an insurance policy taken out by Michael Jackson. The policy covered his "This Is It" tour in the event that it was not successful. The payout was to be $17.5 million, but Lloyds argues that it is invalid because Michael Jackson did not disclose prescription drugs on his application. As Jackson died from an overdose, Lloyds is claiming deception....
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