True Crime of Insurance Fraud Number 66

Lucy and the Tsar

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Lucy served as second officer on a 747 operated by Trans-Oceanic Airlines. Twice a week she flew from Dallas to Leningrad; with brief layovers in New York and Brussels. She had been a second officer for five years. Lucy was looking forward to promotion to first officer. She would be the second woman to command a 747 for Trans-Oceanic.

Her performance reviews were always exceptional. Never had Trans-Oceanic Airlines treated her differently than any other pilot. The glass ceiling seemed nonexistent.

Lucy, as a highly paid professional airline pilot, owned a beautiful 5000 square foot home in Dallas where she lived with her son, daughter and a full- time housekeeper/nanny. She was happy. Her future was unlimited. At forty years of age she was approaching the apex of her professional career.

Her layover in Leningrad was usually two days. Lucy would recover from the inevitable jet lag by visiting the great museums of the time of the Tsars. Her favorite was the Hermitage, which was once the Tsar’s summer palace.

To the museum she always brought along her Nikon single lens reflex camera that recorded each picture with very high resolution. She used the Nikon to photograph the magnificent treasures stolen by the Bolsheviks from the Tsar. The fast lens and digital enhancement allowed her to obtain images without using a flash. Lucy would spend evenings in her hotel sorting her photographs into categories on her lap top.

She had collections of close-up shots of Faberge royal Easter eggs; of oil paintings by Gaugin, Degas, Van Gogh and Picasso; and photos of fine works of art made by native Russian craftsmen unknown in the West.

Lucy converted the settlement check to US currency Travelers Checks. She placed the Travelers Checks in her overnight bag on the airplane. When she landed, as part of a well-known airline crew, her luggage was not inspected by the local customs officials. The Travelers Checks, better than cash, entered the new Russia without hindrance. Lucy immediately went to the dealer appointed by the Hermitage and purchased the Fabergé bird she lusted for paying only 200,000 US Dollars in Travelers checks.

With the remaining $50,00 she purchased two Fabergé silver cigarette cases and a small Picasso drawing in pencil signed and dated by the artist. The bird is displayed prominently over Lucy’s mantelpiece and she used the Fabergé cigarette case to hold note papers and a fountain pen.

Lucy was lucky. If anyone at Edward Lloyd’s Insurance Company had gone to the Dallas public library, they could have found similar photographs of the same items in any one of several books on the Hermitage collection housed at the library. They did not.

Lucy was promoted to Captain. She now commands a Trans-Oceanic 747 that flies three times a week nonstop from Dallas to London’s Heathrow airport.

She is starting a collection of photographs from the Queen’s Museum at Buckingham Palace.


It is time for the insurance industry to invest in a team of insurance claims professionals who know how to investigate a claim, interpret an insurance policy, and deal with a false and fraudulent claim to keep people like Lucy for enjoying a life of successful crime.

(c) 2022 Barry Zalma & ClaimSchool, Inc.

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. He is available at and

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About Barry Zalma

An insurance coverage and claims handling author, consultant and expert witness with more than 48 years of practical and court room experience.
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