Susie’s Blackened Kitchen

True Crime Videos of Insurance Fraud Number 21

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Barry Zalma, Esq., CFE presents videos so you can learn how insurance fraud is perpetrated and what is necessary to deter or defeat insurance fraud. This Video Blog of True Crime Stories of Insurance Fraud with the names and places changed to protect the guilty are all based upon investigations conducted by me and fictionalized to create a learning environment for claims personnel, SIU investigators, insurers, police, and lawyers better understand insurance fraud and weapons that can be used to deter or defeat a fraudulent insurance claim.

Aunt Susie had been in the restaurant business all her life. She worked with chains like Denny’s and Stuckey’s. She was a good cook. She knew everything there was to know about the restaurant business. She could manage people. She could train waitresses, waiters, bus boys, cooks and dishwashers. She had done it all and she knew how to teach others to do it.

Aunt Susie’s dream was to own her own restaurant. She was sure she could do better than any of the people she had ever worked for in the past. She knew she could cook better than any person who ever cooked at any of the restaurants she worked in. Good wholesome food served fast and inexpensively would always find a clientele. She never made enough money to save.

If the arson investigators had more time to investigate; if the insurance company’s investigators were not overburdened; or if anyone had even tried, they would have learned what the old man told Susie two years later. He had broken out the window himself. He bought at the local Shell station a gallon of gas in a one gallon metal can. He told the attendant he needed fuel for his lawn mower. He then went down to the corner where the day laborers gathered every morning at 6:00 a.m. He selected the hungriest looking laborer and offered him $500 to cause a fire at Aunt Susie’s kitchen. He gave the laborer the gallon of gasoline. He explained in Spanglish (pidgin English mixed with pidgin Spanish) how to take the table cloths off of each table and soak then in gasoline so the fire would spread throughout the small restaurant structure.

He gave him a pair of wire cutters so he could cut the wire holding the plywood panel and enter the restaurant. He told him to do so after all the stores in the mall closed. The mall was locked up and dark. He told the laborer he would make sure that the broken window would be one on the side of the building away from the main thoroughfare. He gave him a $100 bill and told him that after the fire he would meet him at the corner and give him four more.

Since it would take the laborer one month of hard work to make the same $500, he readily accepted. The day after the fire the old man met the laborer at the same corner. He gave the laborer four one hundred dollar bills. He suggested that the laborer move to a corner in Los Angeles. The laborer agreed and they never saw each other again. Neither knew the other’s name.

No one was hurt. Only the insurance company, and all the people who bought insurance from that company, lost and Lady Justice remained blindfolded.

© 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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