Duck, and dash for your basement … bolt your door … get vaccinated. America’s eight worst insurance criminals are here. They’re the newest members of the Insurance Fraud Hall of Shame. Welcome to the No-Class of 2017. They’re America’s most-brazen insurance scammers, our new Commanders in Thief. The extreme schemers launched a reign of error like none other. All to steal insurance money.

A baby was murdered … A man’s supposed best friend burned him alive. … Sober homes plied desperate addicts with drugs. … A doc stuck painful needles and lasers into patients’ eyes. And there’s much more. Innocent Americans took a hard fall. So get mad — feel for the victims. And you’re one. Insurance fraud is an $80-billion national crime wave. Scams are driving up your premiums. How’s your heart rate now? Fraud fighters are hunting hard. Let’s turn the corner on insurance thievery together, one scammer at a time.

Man burned alive — by best friend — in home torching

David O’Dell was a gentle man, mentally slowed by a head injury. He lived alone in an old wooden house. O’Dell considered Joseph Meyers his best friend. Meyers considered O’Dell disposable. He and his wife burned Meyers alive in his home to upgrade their lives with insurance payouts in upstate Wayland, N.Y. Insurance money was the couple’s gateway to the good life. They bought O’Dell’s house from him, and let him keep living alone there. The couple insured the old place and Iryn’s possessions for about $125,000. They secretly bought a $40,000 life-insurance policy on O’Dell as well. Read full story

Go figure — crash claims without crashes or passengers

Michael Charles Young recruited dozens of family members and underworld cronies into an orgy of staged car crashes that soaked auto insurers for $500,000 in bogus claims. It was one of Sacramento County’s largest staged-crash rings ever — a fantasy world of invented crashes with supposed motorists who often never set foot in the vehicles. The attempted looting involved at least 100 vehicles and about 65 ring members. Family and friends masqueraded as “injured” drivers and passengers. Taylor’s gang even made claims for people whose identities were stolen. Read full story

Unsober sober homes ply addicts with drugs, force relapses

Foggy addicts laced with heroin and other drugs trooped to Kenny Chatman’s sober homes, anxious for a clean life. Instead, the Palm Beach, Fla. entrepreneur plied them with more drugs in sober homes that often were little more than grimy flophouses. Chatman kept his residents addicted. He forced them to relapse so he could traffic them for inflated and often useless urine testing and rehab that soaked insurers for $25 million in false claims. Some residents overdosed, some died. Read full story

Disabled people out of money, out of luck in $600M swindle

Life dealt hundreds of impoverished Kentuckians crippling injuries and pain. Then life dealt them Eric Conn. Many were unemployed coal miners, scratching out a sparse living in pain. Conn was a flamboyant lawyer who promised he’d get their disability checks coming in, to help pay for critical medical care. Instead Conn launched a $600-million insurance flimflam. It was the largest federal disability ripoff in U.S. history. Thievery earned Conn a mansion and luxury vacations. He left hundreds of honest people without disability money they desperately needed for medical care when the feds were forced to stop paying disability checks while sorting out Conn’s mess. Read full story

Ring stuffs homes with old furniture, torches for insurance

Old homes and junky cars were kindling for Verdon Taylor, the overlord of a crime ring that lit up more than 30 arson fires to score nearly $1 million of insurance money. Buy cheap and claim big was Taylor’s burning ambition during a 16-year arson binge that lit up the Richmond, Va. area. Taylor’s rat pack bought homes and cars at auctions and foreclosure sales — all at steep discount prices. Taylor’s cohorts often rented houses as well. Read full story

Broke and jobless, Dad kills baby son for life insurance

Prince McCloud Rams was a beautiful little boy, barely a year old. He had shining dark eyes that danced in the light. Every child deserves a childhood. But Prince never had one. His father Joaquin Rams was nearly broke, and wanted to live the good life. Rams murdered his own son — a baby — for $550,000 of life insurance money. His mother Hera McCloud gained permanent custody when she and Joaquin split up. Prince was visiting his father alone in Northern Virginia. Suddenly paramedics were rushed to Rams’ home. Prince was wrapped in a towel on the floor, unresponsive. He died the next day. Suspicion immediately focused on Rams. Rams secretly took out three life-insurance policies worth $550,000 total on Prince, investigators discovered. How strange to buy so much life coverage on a mere baby. Rams turned those life policies into a murder weapons. Read full story

Eye doc sticks healthy eyes with painful needles, lasers

Dr. Salomon Melgen stuck needles in patients’ eyes and burned their retinas with lasers. The staggering Medicare ruse stole up to $136 million, replete with painful and botched treatments of luckless patients. Patients flocked to Melgen, a well-known eye specialist in West Palm Beach, Fla. He grew rich by giving painful and worthless injections and laser treatments to hundreds of elderly patients. He even billed insurers for treating patients with plastic prosthetic eyes. Read full story

High-flying airplane con crash lands and deep-sixes

Smoke filled the Beechcraft Baron airplane 30 miles off the Louisiana coast … going down fast. Pilot Theodore R. Wright III radioed for help when flames spat out from behind the instrument panel, melting the windshield. He bellied the plane into the ocean — a cool-headed, life-saving maneuver. Or so Wright claimed. Ditching the Beechcraft actually was a ditzy insurance hoax — Wright crash-landed and sank it on purpose. The deep-six dunking jumpstarted a doomed plot to wreck the Beechcraft … another plane … a Lamborghini … and 45-foot sailboat — all for nearly $940,000 of inflated insurance claims. Read full story

Home invasion — doc lies active seniors stuck in homes

Dr. Jacques Roy mounted a home invasion so big and audacious that he’ll serve 35 long and lonely years in federal prison. It was an uncaring homecare scam. The Dallas-area doctor ran one of the largest Medicare cons in history. Roy’s whopping $375-million plot cranked out thousands of claims for helping ill and infirm seniors, supposedly stuck in their homes. Except the seniors were perfectly healthy, even mowing their lawns. Roy also billed for homecare for hundreds of homeless people living on the streets or in shelters. Read full story


Read about previous year’s inductees to the Insurance Fraud Hall of Shame: