Fake health plan bilks 17,000 victims

By James Quiggle
December 23, 2015

Decent health coverage at a discount price.

That’s what William Worthy and his army of aggressive marketers promised thousands of anxious Americans looking for coverage in a downturned economy.

Instead Worthy handed them worthless piece of paper or stripped-down policies that delivered empty promises.

Worthy bilked 17,000 trusting customers and stole as much as $28 million in premiums. The Isle of Palms, S.C. man was a mastermind of one of the largest fake-health plans in U.S. history. It was signature scam during America’s financial meltdown of 2007-2010.

Some victims had acute medical problems, even cancer. Yet Worthy refused to pay up. Victims were left to fend for their lives and health, often saddled with thousands of dollars in unpaid medical bills.

Lived in luxury

Worthy, meanwhile, siphoned the victims’ money for a pasha’s life of luxury.

“Many of the callers were Hispanic or Asians who could barely speak English, and some of them were dying of cancer and couldn’t get their bills paid...” one customer service rep admitted.

“People would call in crying, but we were instructed to tell them that their claims were ‘in process’ and to call back in 30 days. We were told to flat-out lie to people just to get them off the phone.”

Worthy’s fraud mill pursued vulnerable consumers with blast faxes, pushy telemarketers, a slick website and other effective marketing weaponry. It was a vast conspiracy of unlicensed fake health insurers and shadowy shell companies — some even linked to Pakistan. Boiler rooms of mass-marketers sold junk coverage with cold-calling phone blitzes.

Worthy often paid small claims that convinced policyholders their coverage was real. Yet he refused to pay larger expenses when more-serious medical conditions popped up.

Oklahoma real-estate agent Bob Harper was preparing for his heart pacemaker implant. He discovered his supposed health insurance was worthless — just days before the procedure.

Another Oklahoma resident, Glenda Hey, had shortness of breath and chest pains. She needed $32,000 worth of hospital tests. Worthy refused to pay.

A Houston man had emergency back surgery, his wife said, only to discover Worthy refused to pay his $105,000 bill.

Alarmed regulators and federal prosecutors went after Worthy and his cohorts as consumer complaints mounted. He pleaded guilty and could spend up to 20 years in federal prison when sentenced.

Prosecutors finally found the cure for a sick health plan.

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