The Collector

True Crime Stories of Insurance Fraud Number 31

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Insurance Fraud as a Means to Avoid Poverty 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.

The Collector Gets an Ideal

The collector knew good Chinese art. He was passionate about hand-carved jade. He could talk with authority on any art over one thousand years old. He knew the lives of each emperor that ruled China during the last three millennia.

He did not have the wealth to enjoy his passion. All he could afford was jade carved with dental drills. He believed his life would be unfulfilled if he could not possess carved jade figurines from the Tang Dynasty, but the collector had no job. He subsisted on unemployment insurance. When he could find work, he acted as a real estate appraiser for local banks in Inyo County, California.

He did collect jade within his limited income. Mostly, it was machine carved in prison camps outside Shanghai, Mainland China. When he saved his money, he bought factory-made jade carvings in the style of the Tang Dynasty made in Taipei, Taiwan.

As he collected his poor imitation Tang Dynasty carvings, he missed meals. Hunger made it difficult to sleep.

For four days the collector read everything his library had on the subject of insurance.

After thirty days of intensive investigation, the adjuster gave counsel evidence sufficient to allow him to recommend to the Underwriters that they deny the claim for fraud. Aunt Susie never owned $2,000,000 in jade art. None of her friends or neighbors in the small town of Mexico, Missouri had ever seen any Chinese objects in her home. She was a third grade school teacher her entire life and left an estate, according to her local lawyers, only sufficient to pay for her burial expenses.

The Story Ends with a Happy Ending

The collector was not smarter than the characters in the movie “Double Indemnity.” The adjuster was not Edward G. Robinson. He was a professional insurance claims adjuster.

The Underwriters won this case. The cost was still less than the amount they would have had to pay under the policy.

© 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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You can contact Mr. Zalma at,, and . Mr. Zalma is the first recipient of the first annual Claims Magazine/ACE Legend Award.

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