A socialite makes nearly $20 million of false damage claims after fire wrecks her mansion. An obsessed entrepreneur lodges $1.2 billion of bogus Medicare claims. A slip-and-fall ring terrorizes businesses with $32 million of bogus trips and slips.
The nine most-brazen insurance fraudsters of 2019 were chosen by the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud. The convicted extreme schemers were inducted into the Insurance Fraud Hall of Shame.
The Shamers draw wide public attention to insurance fraud — and its high costs to consumers and insurers. Fraud is an $80-billion annual epidemic, one of America’s largest financial crimes.
Here are this year's shamers:
Fire fraud flameout. Wealthy socialite Claire Risoldi rifled her insurer with $20 million of swollen claims for ruined home possessions after her mansion burned near Philadelphia. Risoldi even blamed brave firefighters for stealing $10 million of jewelry that largely didn’t exist.
Slip ring falls. Street people and other down-and-outers were recruited to pretend they tripped on the sidewalks of New York City. It was a $32-million strafing of insurers by a slip-and-fall ring. Ringleader Dr. Peter Kalkanis even forced some “victims” to have painful spinal fusions and other surgeries to inflate injury claims.
Deadly home arson. A $500,000 home burning ended when the fire starter was scorched to death after lighting gasoline inside the Scranton, Pa. home. Diomedes Ceballos hired his doomed brother Aurelio to burn the home. Aurelio was engulfed in flames when he lit the blaze. That fireball sent him to his death, and Diomedes to the Hall of Shame.
Uncaring nursing care. Phil Esformes launched one of the largest insurance crimes in U.S. history, a $1.2-billion plundering of health insurers in South Florida. Esformes recruited 14,000 addicts, mentally ill and street people for bogus assisted living, nursing care, lab work and other thefts.
Disability scream scheme. A mugger wearing a frightening mask of movie slasher Michael Myers seemingly beat up Boston-area trolley driver Thomas Lucey at a trolley stop. Lucy claimed PTSD and collected thousands of dollars in disability. Except Lucey set up the fake mugging with a friend to steal disability money.
Slip scam iced. Alexander Goldinsky dropped ice on his employer’s cafeteria floor, pretended to fall, and claimed he hurt his head. Security cameras recorded the entire bungled plot. Goldinsky became a national news sensation for how not to try an insurance scam when security cameras are watching.
Phone flimflam. Worthless ortho braces highlighted Lester Stockett’s $424-million theft from Medicare as a lead player in a suspected $2.1-billion transnational crime ring. Telemarketers recruited seniors. Corrupt doctors gave them bogus phone exams and ordered unneeded braces in a vast accused telemedicine plot.
Gator guile. Alligators devoured Mike Williams in a lake near Tallahassee, Fla., worried officials decided. Actually, Mike’s best friend Brian Winchester shotgunned him on a duck-hunting trip, claimed Mike drowned, then buried his body. Winchester and Mike’s wife Denise plotted his death to steal $1.75 million of life insurance and run off together.
Sobriety scheme. A corrupt rehab network forced desperate addicts to relapse in a $100-million plot to milk insurers in Pennsylvania. Jason Gerner warehoused addicts in unsafe sober homes. He forced many addicts to keep relapsing so he could making more false rehab claims. Some sober homes even let addicts take drugs.