What do a rodent in a bowl of soup, a tricked-out street racer at the bottom of a lake, a foreclosure mysteriously set ablaze and a woman who died twice have in common?
They're all part of the outrageous world of insurance scams, in which cash-strapped policyholders, phony or unscrupulous insurance agents, desperate business owners and sundry con artists conspire to defraud insurers by filing inflated or outright bogus claims.
A victimless crime? Hardly.
"The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud conservatively estimates that insurance fraud costs $80 billion a year in stolen claims, not including the social costs," says James Quiggle, spokesman for the nonprofit coalition of insurers and consumer groups. "When you start adding in the lost productivity of businesses, the lost life savings of individuals and the cost to investigate and prosecute, the total figure is likely much higher."
From suspicious tainted-food claims to phony slip-and-falls, faked deaths to real murder, here are eight of the most desperate and devious insurance frauds from the coalition's Insurance Fraud Hall of Shame.
Behold the havoc wrought by insurance fraud on lives, property -- and ultimately your premiums.