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5 of the Worst Insurance Scams of All Time

Scams cost the insurance industry billions of pounds every year. As a result you might think getting away with such a crime is a piece of cake, however, those thinking they can make a quick buck by taking advantage of their policy should heed these cautionary tales;

The Canoe Man

John Darwin fraud

In 2007 John Darwin and his wife Anne rose to fame after being found to have attempted one of the most audacious insurance scams of recent years. Back in 2002, in the face of crippling debt, the father of two decided to fake his own death, allowing his wife to collect a huge amount from pensions and insurance payouts.

He looked to deceive the authorities by rowing out to sea in a canoe and having Anne report him as missing. Though he was alive in well in hiding, after a search by coast guards of surrounding waters turned up nothing, he was thought to have drowned and was eventually declared officially dead.

He and his wife then attempted to move away to Panama, using their ill gotten gains to buy a tropical estate. However, various parties had become suspicious that something was amiss. Whilst they were looking at properties in Panama an estate agent snapped them together and used the photo on their site. A reporter looking into the case found the picture on Google images and the capper was up.

Possibly the saddest aspect of the whole story is that both his sons were never informed of the ruse. Both genuinely believed him to be dead until the plot was discovered.

The Black Widows

Helen Golay and Olga Rutterschmidt

Helen Golay and Olga Rutterschmidt, a pair of pensioners from California, attempted to make millions through their acts of murder via a scam that was as shockingly heartless as it was lucrative.

The pair approached homeless men and promised to help find them shelter as a ruse to obtain their personal details. Once they had these, they took out multiple life insurance policies in their names. Finally, they killed them off.

They killed two men, Paul Vados and Kenneth McDavid, and had approached others before being caught. Between them they’d received over $2 million prior to being sentenced to life in jail.

John Mango

Unlike the Black Widows, who committed murder as a means of pulling of an insurance scam, John Mango accidentally ended up becoming guilty of seconded degree murder when he attempted a scam of his own.

He had intended for a friend to start a small fire on his business premises so he could make a claim, however the fire raged out of control, killing one person and destroying several nearby homes.

Slip and Fall and Slip and Again

Isabel Parker

Isabel Parker made insurance claims after deliberately falling and injuring herself in private premises some 59 times, and managed to make roughly half a million dollars from her exploits, which she used to fund a gambling addiction, before eventually being found out.

The Con Artist

Steve Cooperman maid a mockery of the notion that a masterpiece is priceless when he hired thieves to break into his home and steal a Picasso and a Monet from his collection, thus allowing him to claim the best part of $20 million in insurance.

Cooperman was struggling to pay off bank loans at the time, and his move almost paid off. Suspicions had died down, but then, five years after the ‘theft’ the ex-girlfriend of an accomplice gave the game away.