True Crime Stories of Insurance Fraud Number 25

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The Welcome Fire

Honest People Venture into Fraud

The insureds had wealth. He was a successful lawyer and she owned and operated a chain of chiropractic clinics. They lived in Marin County in a multi-million-dollar home. They had two small children who excelled at school. They entertained frequently. They contributed to political campaigns. The Governor, State Senators, Members of Congress and U.S. Senators stayed at their home as honored guests.

Insurance fraud was not in their vocabulary. It was a crime committed by people below the insured’s’ social status.

The insureds’ venture into crime began innocently. They discovered, on a family outing, a one acre lot atop a hill overlooking San Francisco Bay. Its owner had recently died. The executor needed to sell the land to pay taxes. They could “steal” the lot for only $2,750,000.
The insurer succumbed to settlement negotiations because of frustration in the criminal justice system that refused to accept that it is a crime to steal from an insurance company. Everyone who buys insurance lost.
The insurance company will think twice before it disputes a claim with an insured. The insurance company will refuse to believe the next time a prosecutor tells them he intends to prosecute insurance fraud counts against an insured. The next person who attempts a fraud against this insurance company will find his job easy and profitable.

© 2022 – Barry Zalma
Barry Zalma, Esq., CFE, now limits his practice to service as an insurance consultant specializing in insurance coverage, insurance claims handling, insurance bad faith and insurance fraud almost equally for insurers and policyholders.
He practiced law in California for more than 44 years as an insurance coverage and claims handling lawyer and more than 54 years in the insurance business.
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