The Too Honest Jeweler

True Crime Stories of Insurance Fraud Number 28

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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.

The jeweler had learned to cut diamonds in Antwerp. For ten years he worked in a small office grinding facets onto stones of half a carat or less. The boredom of the job infuriated him. He had no future.

He came to the United States on a tourist visa. He knew that the only way he could become a legal permanent resident was to have a business in place. The income he derived from his sales was sufficient to allow him to live in Southern California, but not set up a business. He needed a large influx of cash.

After only a month working the wholesale jewelry market, the jeweler learned about insurance. It seemed to him that when they weren’t talking about gems all jewelers spoke about insurance. It was expensive. The insurers required them to install sophisticated alarm systems. The insurers required them to install safes that far exceeded any need of reasonable security.

The jeweler saw insurance as a way of setting up a permanent business and becoming a legal resident of the United States.

He got from his jeweler acquaintances the name of an insurance broker who asked few questions. He contacted that broker. He told the broker that he was a diamond salesman who operated his business from his home. The broker presented an application to Underwriters at Lloyd’s, London since no American markets would accept such a risk. The Underwriters at Lloyd’s refused to insure the jeweler because he had insufficient security at his apartment.

The jeweler was undaunted. He went to another insurance broker. This time he described his business premises as the location of one of his acquaintances. He put on the new application the address of the acquaintance. He also included the type of safe at the acquaintance’s premises, the type of alarm system and all other security devices of the premises. The jeweler described his inventory as $100,000 in loose diamonds

The lawyer suggested that the jeweler leave well enough alone. The insurance company seemed willing to close out their books without payment and not pursue criminal prosecution. If he upset them, he might find himself facing criminal charges. Finally, because the lawyer knew of the fraud, he made it clear to the insured that he refused to sue for the jeweler.

The jeweler’s attempt at fraud could have been successful. His mistake was not knowing enough about insurance law. His mistake was giving the lawyer for the insurance company facts that enabled the insurance company to rescind his policy. To be a competent and effective as a perpetrator of insurance fraud, it is necessary to know when to lie and when to tell the truth.

The jeweler did not know. He told the truth when he should have lied. He lied when he should have told the truth.

© 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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