Hong Kong film Declared Legally Dead <死因無可疑> is earning praise and topping the box office for its suspenseful plot. The film follows insurance agent, Sean (Carlos Chan 陳家樂) on a house call to follow up on an insurance policy. When Sean visits his clients, played by Anthony Wong (黃秋生) and Karena Lam (林嘉欣), he discovers their son’s dead body in the house and suspects that the murder is related to an insurance fraud.
While the film’s plot is chilling, there were several real life cases revolving around insurance fraud that made headlines in the United States, which may have inspired Declared Legally Dead.
Setting Mother and House on Fire
In 2006, Marc Thompson, a Chicago commodities firm executive, was in a debt of more than $670,000 and set his house on fire to scam the insurance company. Marc ruthlessly locked his 90-year-old mother in the basement, and then soaked his house kerosene in order to create the illusion that his mother committed suicide.
While Marc was successful in collecting $730,000 from the insurance company, investigators grew suspicious when Marc stashed his insurance money in an offshore account. When the truth of the heinous crime was exposed, Marc was sentenced to 190 years in prison.
Lying to Wife and Faking Own Death
In 2012, Raymond Roth from New York vanished without a trace after going to a nearby beach to swim. As the local officials gathered resources to search for him, Raymond actually went into hiding to defraud the insurance company.
Since Raymond’s wife was kept in the dark of the scam, it was a shock when she later discovered that Raymond and their son were secretly communicating over emails to defraud the insurance company. While Raymond’s wife was worried sick over his wellbeing, he checked himself to a resort in Florida. Unable to accept Raymond’s actions, his wife made the decision to report him to the police.
Faking Slip and Fall Accidents
In 2004, 72-year-old Isabel Parker was a con artist who staged slips and fall accidents before settling with insurance companies. Between 1993 and 2000, she “slipped” as many as 49 times in department stores and supermarkets, and received a total of $500,000 in compensation to pay off her gambling debts. Isabel’s scams did not go unnoticed and she was later charged for insurance fraud. Isabel went to prison for three years before the judge changed her sentence to 12 years of probation in consideration of her old age.
This article is written by Sammi for JayneStars.com.