Crooked senior does smooth floor routines

By James Quiggle
June 1, 2004
Isabel Parker was a stout 72-year-old granny, but performed smooth floor routines like a seasoned Olympic gymnast.

Tumbling was her game. Parker made a long career of pretending to slip and fall in stores. Faking painful injuries, she conned insurance companies into often-large settlements for seemingly real injuries.

She was no rec-room piker. Parker cleanly executed dozens of tricky floor maneuvers during a 10-year crime binge in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

She laid herself out on floors of department stores, supermarkets and liquor stores, and even on sidewalks outside of unsuspecting firms. Parker made 49 injury claims that soaked insurers for more than $500,000.

That gives her Olympian status in a crime that milks businesses and insurers out of more than $8 million a day and drives up costs for everyone, says the National Floor Safety Institute.

Spill some liquid

Slip-and-fall injuries can be tricky. Typically, crooks saunter into a store, acting like ordinary shoppers. Then they might spill some liquid soap on the floor, or maybe drop some lettuce or grapes in the produce section.

Now comes the hard part.

In gymnastics, you score well by staying on your feet.

But with phony slips, you end up flat on your back, seeming to writhe in pain on that cold, hard floor.

Parker needed the insurance money to finance her gambling habit. She tried a few falls, and soon became intoxicated when the insurance money kept rolling in. She turned it into a lucrative career, but spent most of the money in New Jersey casinos.

She sought high degree-of-difficulty scores for her floor routines. Usually she’d fall and then stay down, rubbing her “sore” back or legs. She waited until shoppers or store employees found her.

View previous "Fraud Cases of the Month"

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