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  • Dean Smith

Don’t Put it Past Them: Scammers Exploit Even the Worst Disasters, Including 9/11

As we marked the 15-year anniversary of September 11th, 2001 last month, one of the most devastating, terrifying and heartbreaking terror attacks in the history of the United States of America, an article of a different sort has surfaced from, reminding us that scammers will take advantage of and exploit any disastrous situation for financial gain, no matter how low they have to stoop.

Jim Quiggle, Director of Communications for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, writes, “The 911 scams were especially sordid because they played off of incalculable human suffering.”

The list below highlights just a few of the many fraudulent claims submitted by people who tried to capitalize on the devastation of September 11th, 2001:

  1. Quiggle starts with Charles and Cynthia Gavett. “Less than a week after 3,000 Americans died fiery deaths, Charles Gavett sadly told life insurers that his beloved wife Cynthia had perished in the collapse,” notes Quiggle. Gavett expressed his grief to insurers, telling them that Cynthia was present in one of the towers for a job interview with Cantor Fitzgerald and she had not been seen or heard from since. She had perished, and $628,000 would help Charles Gavett deal with his grief. However, Cynthia was alive and at home with her husband Charles in Concord, GA. They believed that insurers would never investigate such a tragic claim. But something didn’t seem quite right to insurers, which probed an investigation. Quiggle writes, “Cynthia even invited a sheriff’s deputy over for the Thanksgiving holiday. The court invited the Gavetts over for 10-year jail terms.”

    1. Beatrice Kaufman, an elderly millionaire living in NYC, submitted claims to insurers and charities totaling approximately $1 million for “damages” incurred to her $5 million apartment and lawyer-recruiting business office as a result of the attacks. She even stayed in an expensive hotel to keep up appearances. Turns out, she was renovating her unit and moved out before the attacks occurred, but wanted insurers to pay for the work. Kaufman ended up trading her $5 million apartment and swanky hotel rooms for a year in a jail cell.

      1. A West Chester, Ohio man filed a life insurance claim totaling $100,000 for the death of his father in the tower collapse. The problem? His father was half way across the world, living in India.

“Honest Americans are trying to put their lives back together. Nobody needs knuckleheads taking the easy way out,” says Quiggle. “Americans suffer enough after unfathomable disasters. We all grieve for the victims. Insurance scammers who exploit human tragedy are an affront to all of us.”

Whether the devastation stems from a natural disaster, even the impact of a massive terror attack, it is evident that we cannot sleep on situations that pull on our heart strings. We are dedicated to separating the legitimate claims from the fraudulent claims!

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