The Long Hot Spring

True Crime Stories of Insurance Fraud Number 27

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Riots & Insurance Fraud

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.

In the spring of 1992, riots broke out in Los Angeles. Arson and looting persisted for three days until the National Guard was called in to bring peace to the streets.

The insured, the owner and operator of a failing restaurant saw the riots as an opportunity. Chez Expensive was in Hollywood. It catered to a small motion picture and television producers who gather along Highland Avenue between Third Street and Hollywood Boulevard. The motion picture business was bad. The television commercial business was bad. Chez Expensive began to see luncheon crowds of three couples. The insured was barely grossing enough to pay his rent.

Riots and civil commotion cause everyone hardship. Innocents suffer the most. Those with criminal intent, however, take advantage of the misery of others.

This story, unlike all of the stories in this book, is purely fictional. After more than 53 years in the insurance industry dealing with arson and insurance fraud almost continuously, I believe I can safely estimate that at least 10 percent of the six thousand fires set in the 1992 Los Angeles riots were not caused by the rioters. I assume, similarly, that about 10 percent of the fires set by BLM and ANTIFA activists in Portland, Seattle and Minneapolis were not caused by the rioters.


It is a distressing comment on our society that in a time of civil unrest the innocents suffer, usually honest and honorable people are tempted to steal from an insurance company, and the criminal’s profit.

© 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.

You may find interesting the podcast “Zalma On Insurance” at;  you can follow Mr. Zalma on Twitter at; you should  see Barry Zalma’s videos on; or videos on Go to the Insurance Claims Library – The last two issues of ZIFL are available at 

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