Inventing a whole person, just to kill them off and collect on their life insurance might seem like a good idea at the time—especially after watching Andy Dufresne so effortlessly create a person out of thin air in The Shawshank Redemption. However, it still isn’t anything you should try to do outside the fantastical world that Hollywood creates.

Dr Fixit is on the Job / Alternate title The Proctologist
Mike Bitzenhofer via Compfight

Believe it or not though, there’s a whole slew of insane ideas that have been “masterminded” over the years by people attempting to bank roll an early retirement. Below we’ve put together three of the most criminally and ethically crazy tales, all of which have collectively resulted in around 400 years of federal prison sentences—half of which just comes from ONE case.

1. Let Me Just Invent a Family Member — and Say They Died & Left Me Everything

In Los Angeles, both a phlebotomist and a mortuary assistant cooked up a plot to completely invent a family member, say they died, and put on a full blown show with a funeral, a mannequin, and a coffin weighted down by the meat of a cow.

With their careers, being what they were, they thought they could fix this scam to-the-nines and walk away with over $900,000 in term life insurance. Unfortunately, they didn’t account for the doctor in their plot refusing to forge false medical documentation — oops. Wouldn’t that be the first thing you check?

2. People Burn Down Their Homes for Insurance—but They Don’t Often Go This Far

Marc Thompson, an executive within the Chicago grain futures market, not only bottomed out his finances, but dug a grave six feet under it with debt compiled from extravagant living. In a desperate attempt to climb back out, he decided to torch his home and collect the $730,000 in insurance money.

Unfortunately, this amount wouldn’t have been enough, in fact, it probably would have only made a small dent in his debt. So, Mr. Thompson decided to try and make the whole thing look like he went up in flames with the house… by leaving his 90-year-old mother in the basement. Of course, he was caught and is now serving a 190-year federal prison sentence.

3. Pill Mills—Churning Out Profits—Oh, & Prison Sentences

What do an Ohio Pain Management Specialist, a Medical Clinic Operator from California, and a M.D. from Kansas have in common? They’re all in prison.

Attempting to extort over $60 million out of insurance companies, Dr. Jorge Martinez — the Pain Management Specialist from Ohio—billed insurers for expensive diagnostic tests and narcotic drugs, that he never actually performed or dispensed. Martinez got away with it for years, at a rate of 100 patients per day, to the tune of $12 million dollars.

Tam Vu Pham — the Medical Clinic Operator from California — actually paid over 5,000 completely healthy individuals for their consent in performing surgical operations on them. The result? Bills sent to insurance companies that totaled over $96 million.

And in Wichita, Kansas, a man by the name of Dr. Stephen Schneider ran a successful pill mill that generated $6 million in narcotics and, in turn, 68 deaths due to overdoses.

Jesse Hughes is a freelance writer, specializing in insurance. He is a trusted resource in the Australian insurance industry, lending his expertise to industry leaders like Suncorp.

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