In the 1994 movie thriller “The Last Seduction,” femme fatale Bridget Gregory comes up with a devious plan to use her new boyfriend to kill her husband and collect a bundle in life insurance. It was a far-fetched plot, but one that so impressed Mechele Linehan of Olympia, Wash. that she decided to try it in real life. Linehan was sentenced to 99 years in prison last week. She admitted to prosecutors that she was inspired by the movie.
A few years ago a Louisiana man was convicted of killing his wife in a fake death scheme gone bad. An accomplice told the FBI that they got the idea from watching an ABC Dateline program that described how easy it is to scam life insurers.
Television (and movies) does influence the human mind. That’s why companies spend billions of dollars each year on TV advertising.
But television is not the only small screen that leaves impressions on people. The computer and video games affect us as well. It’s disturbing that Saints Row, an insurance fraud action game, now has a sequel featuring even more devious scams.
The fraud-fighting community is not winning the battle for the hearts and minds of the American consumer: Consider the high tolerance for fraud and the low public opinion of insurers. Video games and the like make our job that much tougher.