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  • Dean Smith

2013 Insurance Fraud Hall of Shame

Christina Bramlet of wraps up the 2013 Insurance Fraud Hall of Shame, backed by the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, to spread public awareness and educate the public and industry on its ramifications and to demonstrate the lengths people will go to collect a check.

Arson Inductee

Armin Wand

This Darlington, Wisconsin resident burned down his home, with his pregnant wife, sons, and 2-year-old daughter inside, all to collect an insurance payout and start a new life with money and without the family he helped create.

Wand succeeded in killing his three sons, Allen, 8; Jeffery, 5; and Joseph, 3. Sharon Wand, Armin’s 27-year-old wife, miscarried and was left in critical condition for months on end. Jessica, the couples’ 2-year-old daughter, barely survived.

During the trial, it was discovered that Sharon carried 2-year-old Jessica out of the blaze, and Armin tried to pull her back in.

According to Christina Bramlet, “Sharon has since endured five surgeries, multiple skin grafts, and 46 sedations for therapy. With more than 86 percent of her body burned, Sharon will never regain the full use of her limbs. Her lungs are so damaged from the fire that she will always need oxygen support.”

Armin Wand has been convicted of murder and is serving three life sentences with no eligibility for parole.

Runner Up:

Gerald Eugene Singer, 74-year-old Muskegon, Michigan resident, was convicted earlier in the year on two counts of arson, three counts of using fire to commit mail fraud, and five counts of tax fraud for intentionally burning down several properties.

Singer is ordered to pay $653,140 in restitution to the victims of the blazes he set, and will spend 55 years in prison.

Auto Fraud Inductees

Sol Naimark

Naimark, New York licensed attorney and a leader in a Russian-led, no-fault crash ring, attempted to defraud $400 million in fake injury claims from insurance companies. Prosecutors say the scheme was the “largest attempted looting of no-fault insurance money in history.”

Thousands of people took place in the scam, including crooked chiropractors, doctors, medical practitioners, medical clinics, etc. Naimark’s role included suing or threatening to sue auto insurers for fraudulent injury claims after fixed accidents.

Naimark’s pivotal role in the scheme made him a “valued asset to the cartel,” thus collecting $273,000.

Naimark admitted to his role in March after a sting operation.

Ana Ovando

Ovando, 42-year-old South Florida resident, participated in a staged-accident crew with the role of creating low-impact collisions in order to collect money over fraudulent whiplash injuries.

Ovando took her involvement way too far when she started involving her five children, ages ranging from 3 to 16 years old, in the accidents to collect more cash.

Bramlet writes, “As children, they were vulnerable to injury or death, had the crashes not happened according to plan. Further demonstration that the children’s welfare was a low priority, Ovando subjected them to worthless chiropractic treatments, thereby exposing them to yet more potential harm.”

Ovando faces 6 ½ years in federal prison and deportation back to the Dominican Republic, while her 16-year-old daughter has dropped out of high school to care for her younger siblings.

Workers’ Comp & Disability Inductees

Wanda Podgurski

Podgurski was featured in ICU’s Newsletter earlier this year after the 60-year-old San Diego, California resident was charged with insurance fraud after investigators discovered that she had been traveling to New York, Boston, Dominican Republic, Seattle, among other destinations, with the money she had received from seven different insurance companies using the claim that she had fallen in her home seven years ago and another fake insurance claim for a jewelry theft. She stole more than $660,000 collectively.

Wanda Podgurski created a Twitter account; a lucky break for investigators, and a sheer act of stupidity on behalf of Podgurski. Podgurski tweeted “Catch me if you can,” in June, just five months after skipping out of $500,000 bail during her San Diego trial. In her absence, a judge sentenced her to 20 years in prison.

Podgurski tweeted in late June: “Help find me before I con anyone else.” The brazen and taunting acts of Podgurski led the DA’s Computer and Technology Crime High-Tech Response Team directly to her location, and the Fugitive Task Force gained custody in Rosarito Beach, Mexico on July 4th, 2013, approximately one week after the above mentioned Tweet.

San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said, “The defendant in this case was brazen in both the large-scale fraud she committed and the way she mocked the criminal justice system.”

Dr. Peter Ajemian

According to Bramlet, “This New Yorker was a ‘man of the people,’ well in a sleazy way. Dr. Ajemian enabled hundreds of Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) employees to fabricate serious injuries so they could retire comfortably by means of disability insurance payouts and ‘ill-gotten pensions.’”

Ultimately, Dr. Ajemian “diagnosed” over 700 Long Island Rail Road workers with fraudulent injuries, bad enough that they could retire, with most of these workers just reaching the age of 50. The workers would pay Ajemian a portion of their package (anywhere between $800-$1200) in exchange for fake disabilities and medical records.

To top it off, Dr. Ajemian also billed insurance companies for unnecessary services rendered, such as x-rays, physical therapy, hospital visits, and more.

The court sentenced the crooked doctor earlier this year to paying $233 million in restitution to the victims and prison time.

Insider Fraud Inductee

Rick Renzi

This Sonoita, Arizona man, owner of the Patriot Insurance Agency, and (former) Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives, was found guilty of stealing $400,000 from clients to pay for his congressional campaign in 2002.

Basically, instead of using the money that clients paid to obtain coverage for their businesses, the congressman used the money to pay for personal expenses, such as tax bills, family vacations, etc.

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