In today's über competitive insurance marketplace, property and casualty insurers must sometimes sacrifice accuracy at the altar of customer service. Claims handling becomes a process to be streamlined, automated and maximized, especially for large companies. Such companies make attractive targets for petit fraud, however, because their expedited underwriting and claims processes can allow fraudulent claims of the smaller variety to go undetected. Smaller particles through a larger sieve, so to speak.
Perhaps that's what Sidney Edwards of Buffalo, New York, was counting on. He reportedly:
- took out a homeowners policy on a Kenmore, New York home that he didn't own,
- provided Allstate with a fictitious bank account number for payment of the policy premiums,
- submitted a claim for damage to the home's undamaged garage door,
- received a check -- most likely not to the insured location's address -- from Allstate for $1,600,
- called Allstate to complain that he had not received Allstate's claim payment check,
- received a second check for $1,600 from Allstate, again probably not sent to the insured address, and
- cashed both checks at a local store.
Maybe it was Edwards' greed in requesting a second check that caused Allstate to take a closer look at the claim. In insurance fraud work, the maxim "pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered" is often apropos. Something Edwards did tripped the fraud detection threshold, leading to his eventual arrest. What I wonder, though, is whether Edwards came up with this idea all on his own, or had he learned of a similar hit and run from someone else?
Fast, cheap, good. Can have two but not all three. In project work, and in insurance fraud detection.