Notorious Cases of Insurance Fraud

by Rebecca Hall on 2 Oct, 2012

If you were asked to name a career in insurance, you’d probably answer ‘salesman’: it’s the most prominent aspect of the industry in pop culture, whether it’s being joked about or acted out. But there are plenty of careers in the insurance industry which aren’t sales-based, including actuarial roles, analyst positions, and more!

In fact, there’s even a career in insurance for those who fancy themselves as something of a Sherlock Holmes. Big insurance employers, like Direct Line Group, will have people whose job it is to investigate claims in case they’re fraudulent, saving their company thousands of pounds.

If you’re interested in a job in insurance, then visit the Direct Line Group Careers site today. Who knows – one day you might help catch a false claimant like the ones below, who all committed creative acts of insurance fraud!

A Murky tale of Mousy soup

Cracker Barrel is a big chain of restaurants and cafes in America and, as you’d expect with any large food establishment, they take their food hygiene seriously. So when Carla Patterson claimed she found a dead mouse floating in her soup back in 2004, they took the matter very seriously indeed.

In fact, they had the mouse taken to a lab and extensively tested. It was discovered that no vegetable soup had made it into the mouse’s tiny lungs, so it couldn’t have drowned, and its little two inch body to be fresh, neither scalded nor cooked. It was decided by the courts that the mouse had probably been plopped into the starter by Carla herself in the hopes of landing a large payout.

John and Anne Darwin

John Darwin’s friends and family were devastated when he went missing during a sea jaunt in his canoe back in 2002. When he turned up in 2007, apparently having suffered from amnesia, they were overjoyed.

Until it turned out that he’d never really been missing at all: he’d been secretly living next door to his family home for five years, sustained by his wife Anne. She’d used the £162,000 in insurance money she received after he’d faked his death to pay off their mortgages, having convinced everyone from the police to their two sons that she was grieving for her lost husband.

The Black Widow Murders

Olga Rutterschmidt and Helen Golay became friends in California in the 1980s, bonding over their difficult pasts and their love of jazzercise. They both lived in Hollywood, and they were both into big hair, big clothes and good makeup, and they both needed money to maintain their looks and lifestyles.

But by the late nineties they’d worked out a way to get big money on the sly. In 1999, they befriended a local homeless man, Paul Vados, and used the personal details they coaxed from him to set up a series of life insurance policies of which they were the sole beneficiaries. It wasn’t long before Paul died in a mysterious hit-and-run accident, and the pair collected thousands of dollars in payout.

Suspicion was raised when, in 2005, another vulnerable member of the Hollywood homeless community was killed in similar circumstances. The trail led to Olga and Helen, and after a bit of detective work, it was discovered they’d collected more than $2 milllion in insurance payouts and were already grooming their next victim.

About the Author

Rebecca Hall


Rebecca Hall worked as an independent mortgage adviser for 10 years before turning to financial journalism full time. She has strong links to the CAB advising families on mortgage refinancing.