Click your fingers… An insurance scam just happened. Click; there goes another one. Click; and another. Insurance scams go on all the time, hence our premiums shooting through the roof every year. While the majority of folk will settle for a minor bit of fraudulence to get a new laptop, or iPhone, there are others that will go to more elaborate lengths to receive a more handsome payout… yet still fail to do the job successfully. With a recession that appears to have no light at the end of the tunnel, it’s no wonder some people go to such extreme lengths. Here’s a rundown of the most extreme insurance scams.
William Craig Miller
In 2006, 34 years old William Craig Miller decided to burn down his beautiful home in Scottsdale because he was swimming in a huge amount of debt. He asked his employee Steven Duffy to help burn down his house. That part went well. That’s until the police found gas canisters in among the charred ruins of the house and he was arrested. By this point Duffy was regretting his part in the scam and agreed to testify against Miller in court. This decision signalled not only Duffy’s death, but that of his girlfriend, her son and daughter, and even Duffy’s brother. When Miller heard that Duffy was to testify he wanted to get rid of all the evidence and that included anyone close to Duffy. He shot all five of them dead in an execution style killing and is now facing the electric chair, all for a $440,000 insurance payout.
Marc Thompson, from Chicago, had managed to get himself into a huge amount of debt, despite having a very good job. He came up with the not so original idea of burning down his house and collecting the insurance money. But in order to give the whole scenario a natural touch, he deliberately left his own mother inside with the intention of making it appear like suicide. You could argue that you can’t put a price on your own Mum, yet he received a $730,000 payout for his efforts. Eventually though he got rumbled for insurance fraud, and more importantly, the murder of his mother and sentenced to 190 years in jail. He showed no remorse at the trial and appeared generally unconcerned at the enormity of what he had done.
A Guy Who Loved Cigars
A lawyer from Charlotte, USA had a rare collection of cigars and wanted to insure them against any accidents involving fire. The insurance company accepted this and the cover went ahead – he then smoked the lot in a few weeks and filed a claim. The insurance company then refused and argued that the lawyer had simply used them for the purpose they were created for. The rumbled lawyer then sued the company and unbelievably won! The company were forced to pay out the full amount to him and he thought he was home and dry. However, that was before the insurance company counter sued him for arson… 24 counts of arson that is. He was found guilty and locked away for twenty-four months.
Jeffrey Alnut from New York had made a series of bad business decisions over the last few years and was heading straight for bankruptcy. He decided that if he burned down one of his buildings he could collect on the insurance money and all his money problems would be over. An easy fix, right? What he appeared to have forgotten, however, was that his building was full of tenants. He went ahead with his plan nevertheless and the building went up in smoke. One tenant, Debra Morris, rushed back inside to save her cat from the fireball but was never seen again, devoured by the hungry flames. At his trial Alnut showed no remorse, even though his actions had claimed a life and he was put in prison for years.
Juan Jose Luna
Juan Jose Luna had recently redeveloped his home and had decided that actually, it would bring him a lot of money if he set it on fire. He decided to try and save some money so cut out the middleman and decided to do the job himself. He concluded that he would need to use an accelerant to make sure the job was done properly and make sure the house was burnt down to the ground. The problem was that Luna didn’t really have any idea what he was doing and the accelerant he used was so powerful that the house literally blew up within seconds. Luna was found walking the streets with terrible injuries which was probably used as evidence when he was framed for the arson. After he had recovered he was sent straight to prison and will serve a long time. On top of that he has lost his house and has been left with serious scarring, a high price to pay for cash.
Victor and Olga Barriere owned what they considered a ball and chain around their neck. Their home was decaying, needed some very expensive repairs and was generally no longer manageable for the Barrieres. Sensing that foreclosure wasn’t far away they decided the only option would be to burn it down and claim on the insurance money. They weren’t brave enough to attempt the arson themselves and so hired someone to do it for them. What they didn’t realise however, was Thomas Trucios was no expert in the area of burning down homes and was in fact just a local handyman. This showed through when he set not only the house alight but also himself after accidentally pouring gasoline over his clothes, leaving him fatally injured. However, the real victims were his poor family who he managed to call while he was burning alive. Victor received fourteen and Olga, six years, after they avoided an attempted murder charge.
This guy knew his family were having financial problems and so in a bid to keep the bailiffs away he decided to burn down the family home and collect the insurance money. The only snag was that his grandmother was still inside when he set fire to the house and she perished in the flames with over half her body covered in third degree burns. When the police caught up with Drayton he first blamed his uncle for starting the fire, however police then discovered his uncle was actually serving time and it couldn’t possibly have been him. Drayton finally told the truth but denied any knowledge of his grandmother being in the house at the time. However, investigators didn’t believe him, they thought he had planned the whole thing, right down to killing his grandmother due to an $8,000 life policy and he was carted off for a long stint in prison.
In one of the biggest insurance scams ever recorded, gang leader Kenneth Allen from Indiana decided that he had found a great way to make a huge amount of money in very little time. He got all his men to buy up over fifty houses and then set them alight in various ways from candles, to chip pan fires to electrical faults. The scams were very successful for a few years and with insurance money pouring in Allen was able to live a life of luxury for many months. However, the gang members were starting to get lazy and weren’t being as careful as at the beginning of the fraud. Mistakes were being made when insuring properties in the initial stages, and the same methods were being used too often to set the houses on fire. Finally, investigators put two and two together, and realised that all the insurance claims were part of one big scam, which, at the time it was discovered had already cost insurance companies millions. Allen was found guilt and sentenced to four years in prison.
Article written by PolicyExpert home insurance advisors. For genuine home insurance claims, PolicyExpert.co.uk offer up to scratch, specialist advice service for people up and down the UK.