Murder Pays

This following is a Fictionalized True Crime Story of Insurance Fraud from an Expert who explains why Insurance Fraud is a “Heads I Win, Tails You Lose” situation for Insurers. The story is one of many designed to help the public Understand How Insurance Fraud in America is Costing Everyone who Buys Insurance Thousands of Dollars Every year and Why Insurance Fraud is Safer and More Profitable for the ­­­Perpetrators than any Other Crime. 

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George and Adam were partners. Their business, consulting with aerospace manufacturers on preparing the reports required by the Department of Defense, had been immensely successful. For the first five years of business their billings exceeded $3,000,000 a year.

They lived well. Like the average Americans they were, they spent every dollar they made and about 10% more than they made. They had no savings. They did have large credit card balances.

Because they knew how important each was to the success of the partnership, they purchased Key man life insurance policies with limits of $3,000,000 each from Trustme Life Insurance Company.

In 2008 the bottom fell out of the aerospace industry with the election of President Obama who cancelled space programs. Their customers stopped hiring consultants. The billings of the partnership shrank like Alice after she bit the mushroom.

Adam and George could not make their mortgage or credit card payments. Their business was failing. They were facing both business and personal bankruptcy. Adam, the adventurous partner, had an idea.

“George,” Adam said, “The only way we can get out of this financial mess is our life insurance policies.”

“I don’t want to die to collect,” George said.

“Neither do I,” Adam replied. “But I still want to collect.”

“Do you propose to murder me.”

“No, George, I propose that we find a homeless person who physically resembles one of us and kill him. We can plant identification on the corpse and then share in the $6,000,000 double indemnity payment.”

“My,” replied George, “that’s a brilliant, although evil and criminal, plan.”

“I see no other way out. It’s either the death of a useless human being or total financial catastrophe for us.”

“Adam, they have a death penalty in this state.”

“So, what, the plan is perfect. No one will know. We’ll retire in luxury.”

“Okay, I’ll go along with it, but I don’t like it. This is dangerous.”

The partners began to travel skid row. They needed a homeless person who physically resembled one of them in height, weight and coloring. It took them a week to find the right person. They befriended him with a bottle of wine and a free meal. They told him that they had just completed a twelve-step program and part of that program was to help a person in need. Together, they took the homeless person to Adam’s house. The partners washed off the grime in Adam’s massive master bath, dressed him in Adam’s clothes, and outfitted him with accessories until he looked like a Century City lawyer about to meet an important client.

The homeless man was only known to them as “Fuzzy.” He was suspicious and refused to give them his full name.

Fuzzy was grateful. He thanked his benefactors profusely and offered to work to earn what they had given him.

Adam and George agreed and offered him the job operating the photocopy machine at their office at the rate of $18.00 an hour. While he was getting on his feet, Fuzzy could sleep in the guest room at Adam’s house. He could ride to work every morning with Adam.

The normal skepticism of the homeless floated from Fuzzy like seeds from a Dandelion in a gale. He slept soundly between clean sheets for the first time in five years. He was up at 6:00 a.m., made coffee and fried bacon and eggs that he and Adam shared. They then drove to the office together in Adam’s emerald green Jaguar XJ-8 convertible.

Fuzzy worked hard. He was on his best behavior all day, photocopying extra copies of old consultation reports. At noon George and Adam took Fuzzy out to lunch at their favorite restaurant and then stopped at Adam’s barber. Fuzzy was provided a free haircut exactly like that the barber had given to Adam.

After the day ended and all of the employees left, Fuzzy waited for Adam to finish his work sitting in the lobby reading Sports Illustrated.

Adam called Fuzzy into Adam’s office at 8:00 that night. He asked Fuzzy to sit in his desk chair and shot him in the face with a 12-gauge shotgun at close range. Adam discharged one barrel on each hand to eliminated all of Fuzzy’s fingerprints.

Adam then placed his wallet with all its money, credit cards and other identification in the inside coat pocket of his old suit, removed anything that might identify Fuzzy as being someone other than Adam and then drove to the airport in George’s 750 IL BMW leaving the Jaguar in the garage. At the airport, Adam, using cash, purchased a ticket in the name of Adam Smith to New Orleans, Louisiana. He had already purchased, from street vendors on Hoover Street in Downtown Los Angeles a driver’s license in the name of Adam Smith with a birth date five years earlier than Adam’s true date of birth, a social security card, a MasterCard and Visa all issued in the name of Adam Smith.

George spent that evening with a client eating dinner and then attending a performance of “Wicked” at the Pantages theater. After leaving his client at midnight George took a cab to the airport and picked up his car at long term parking. He paid in cash. His alibi was perfect.

On arrival in Louisiana Adam spent two days at the Sheraton and then rented an apartment. He obtained a Louisiana driver’s license and found a job as an engineer in an electronics factory outside New Orleans.

He started a scrap book with articles from the Los Angeles Times that he had obtained from the local library, dealing with his untimely and vicious murder. George, the distraught and devastated partner, filed a claim with the insurer. He informed the insurer that he left his partner in the office at 7:00 the night before his death. Adam was working on finishing a report for one of their clients. His secretary, who usually arrived at 8:00 in the morning, one hour before George, found the body when she opened the office. She telephoned George first and then the police. When George arrived, he was able, from the suit of clothes, to identify the body as that of his partner, Adam. There simply wasn’t enough of the face to identify.

The insurance company did as much investigation as it could, including interviews of the night staff at the office building, all of Adam’s friends and neighbors and the police. Although they recognized that the business was failing, George’s alibi for the time of death was airtight. Since George was the only person who could gain by the murder, since the shotgun was left at the scene and had no fingerprints, since the police traced the shotgun and found that it had been stolen a year before from someone in Wyoming, there were no leads.

The insurer issued a check in the amount of $6,000,000 to George who accepted it gratefully. George then deposited the money in his account, obtained a $3,000,000 cashier’s check and delivered it to Adam Smith in New Orleans. The plan was that Adam would stay in Louisiana, enjoy his newfound wealth and their perfect crime would be consummated.

Adam abided by the plan for a year and a half. He assumed nothing could go wrong and decided to come back to Los Angeles to renew an acquaintance with a young lady with whom he had been seriously in lust. When he arrived on her doorstep, unannounced, the young lady, who had attended his funeral in tears, was pleasantly surprised. She entertained him as he expected and dropped him at the Four Seasons where he was staying.

Although she considered Adam to be a prodigious lover, the young lady was more interested in cash than love. From the hotel, she drove directly to the West Los Angeles station of the Los Angeles Police Department and introduced herself to a detective. She knew that a life insurance claim had been made and wanted the police to know that the person whose murder they were investigating was presently sound asleep in his hotel room at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills.

She explained to them how Adam, after twenty minutes of horizontal Rhumba, explained to her how he had defrauded an insurance company out of $6,000,000. She explained to the police that she would never be a party to such a crime and wanted it noted in their report that she was the source of the information and the person to whom any rewards posted by the insurance company should be paid.

Adam and George were arrested and tried for the murder of Fuzzy as well as several counts of insurance fraud. The testimony of the young lady, the presence of Adam and the Los Angeles Airport recording of George’s license plate on entry and exit from the airport parking lot made their defense impossible. They were convicted.

Adam and George are now spending the remainder of their lives in the State Penitentiary.

The insurer recovered $4,000,000 of the $6,000,000 (George and Adam had lived well for that year and a half) and paid the lustful young woman a $400,000 reward. She lived happily ever after.

Adapted from my book,

(c) 2024 Barry Zalma & ClaimSchool, Inc.

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