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By Leslie Kim
In the July/August 1995 issue of The John Cooke Fraud Report, the front page article was entitled, “Inside the Man — Inside the Reason.” It was an interview with a self described Hungarian Gypsy who, as part of his Federal sentencing deal, had agreed to cooperate with law enforcement and investigative personnel by teaching us about organized slip/falls and staged auto accidents. And that he did. Even seasoned investigators hung on every word .. as David provided an insideout look from the perspective of a guy pulling the wool over the eyes of an industry. It was an incomparable learning opportunity because it was a crash course on exactly how much certain ethnic crime groups knew about our rules, processes, authority limits and adjusting practices — and how little we were aware that our industry has virtually no secrets where criminals are concerned.
History often repeats itself. Now, seventeen years later, we bring you an update. Again, our interviewee is a member of a very specific culture based group known to all. For the purposes of this article — as well as in view of the litigious times we live in — our editorial decision is to refer to the group as Fuldrums. For it was a self-described Fuldrum named Frank who made contact, What surprised me the most was the amount of insider information that Frank possessed relative to the life insurance industry. He knew our buzz words, he knew our processes and he knew our data-saving capabilities. More importantly, he knew what data companies did and did not share and, as a result, he knew our industry weaknesses.
Six hours of interviewing later, and with absolutely no broad-brushed accusation of criminality against the culture that is Fuldrumani (indeed, the vast majority of these people are delightful, colorful, church-going, law-abiding members of society), we bring you “A Chat With Frank.” It’s our belief that insurers should pay close attention to what he reveals and then respond accordingly (with internal procedures and review) if they deem such to be necessary. Also, to be perfectly clear, the names and places have been changed, but the circumstances described are frighteningly real.
JCFR: Frank, what brought you to this point — where you and I are talking and you’re telling me the things that you are telling me?
Frank: I came across a copy of the book Hastened to the Grave, and it was like a message. A bell rang in my head and I tried to find the lady detective. She was gone, but somebody there told me to call you and gave me this number.
JCFR: Oh, Hastened to the Grave was about the Foxglove murders, Seattle and New York, correct?
Frank: Yes. I know it was a long time ago, but there is stuff just like that going on now in my own community and I need somebody who will listen to me and not just say, “Oh, this guy is crazy.” And so it began, many conversations with Frank … Frank was, and is, a Fuldrumani who is proud of his heritage and culture. He is 58 years old, very knowledgeable about the history of his people, fluently speaks Fuldrumish, and he fathered three children — a daughter and two sons. He was born in the US, worked from the time he was nine, has only one social securitynumber, one name, and provided for himself and his family. His first marriage lasted almost thirty years; his second marriage lasted less than three years. I asked why the second marriage failed so quickly? Frank: Tina was trying to kill me. She still is.
JCFR: That’s a pretty serious allegation. Why would she try to kill you?
Frank: Because her sister’s husband bought a $1.5 million life insurance policy on me. They got it right after we got married, and she told me that if anything happened to me, her brother Tony would take care of my kids from my first marriage. Tony has money. He paid for it, and he was listed as beneficiary. I started getting sick right after he bought the policy.
JCFR: What happened?
Frank: I always had good health. Then my blood pressure was going crazy. My heart would beat real fast, I mean, 200 beats a minute. It would feel like a jack hammer in my chest. Then, sometimes it would go low, like down to 30. It was bad. I never took medicine before that; blood pressure pills was the first. Then more things happened and I kept getting more pills. Pretty soons (sic) I got a whole line-up of pill bottles and I’m taking ’em by the handfuls. I hardly knew who I was. In four months I was in the hospital five times, each time worse. One night I was in the bathroom and Tina and Tony were there. I came out and Tina told me to drink my water. She held the straw for me and I don’t remember anything until I woke up as doctors and nurses were putting paddles on my chest. They said I’d died for a minute or two. I looked over and I saw Tina and then I knew. I saw it in her face. It’s like she was mad that I didn’t stay dead.
Frank was justified in his fear that another person was going to chalk his story up as “Oh, this guy is crazy” because I was rapidly coming to that conclusion. For whatever reason, I kept listening. He told me that his son had come to the hospital and taken him to a cousin’s house. “My kids wouldn’t tell Tina where I was. I slept for two days, and when I woke up, I flushed every pill down the toilet. The fog started to go away, and the more it lifted, the more sure I was that to Tina, I was no more than a million and a half dollar ticket.”
It sounded like a Dexter script from the Showtime series. Instead of the girlfriend who had a genius for deadly herbs and “purple plants,” it was a series of players from Tina’s list of relatives who were on the beneficiary end of too many life insurance policies to be happenstance. In almost every instance, cause of death was heart failure. Big Joey, playing poker, drinking a vodka tonic, and blowing out 50 birthday candles on a tittie cake. Seconds later, he suddenly pitched forward and hit the floor. Sudden heart attack. Dead. And there was cousin Eddie’s wife, Selma, who went from perfectly healthy to dead; again a sudden illness and a fatal heart attack. Or Pony Mike, drinking and dancing at his niece’s wedding one minute, on the floor, blue, the next minute. Every one of them worth more dead than alive, and every one of them within 20 feet of Tony or Tina when the Grim Reaper swooped in so unexpectedly.
JCFR: Are you suggesting that Hastened to the Grave is having a replay in Houston, Texas? That extended family members are being insured and then helped along toward an untimely death?
Frank: Not just Houston. I been thinking about this since I talked to you the first time two days ago and I can tell you four places that I know and give you the names of people who got clocked.
JCFR: Frank, why me? And why now? Did you know this was going on before you figured out that you were on the bad end of the stick?
Frank: I swear on my sons’ lives, on my daughter’s life, I didn’t know that they was doing this thing against healthy people, but I did know something else. And God help me, I was even part of it., but I didn’t know. I swear, I didn’t know.
JCFR: Tell me which company has the insurance policy on you. And tell me the “something else” that you just mentioned.
Frank: Fuldrums have a lot of their own doctors. Sometimes if somebody was getting sick with something bad, we’d buy a life insurance on them as if they was fine. Tony put family people together into investment groups; like I put $30,000 into a share of a policy on my aunt and doubled my money ten months later. I mean, she was gonna die anyway, right? And I cried my eyes out at her funeral. But the way it came down, we all got a share of the policy payout. It was like a gift from her.
JCFR: Frank, there are agents, and underwriting, and medical exams. You can’t just pull up to a drive-through window and buy a huge policy on someone.
Frank: Tony gets it done. He’s got a lady agent who comes to your house. When my mom got sick, this lady Laura came out and did the papers and got us two policies. She knew all about my Mom, but she said she could get the policies, and she did. When my mom died, we got our money. A lot of Fuldrums do it.
JCFR: Let’s go back to what happened to you earlier this year. I’m going to ask you some questions, and I want you to tell me all that you can remember.
And so began a substantive medical history of a 58-year-old man, height/weight proportional, in excellent health for his age, taking no medication at all. Immediate family all healthy and the older members exceeded life expectancy charts. Grandpa died at 92 when hit by a drunk driver, and Grandma was 99 and still living on her own when she tripped over the cat and cracked her skull on the coffee table. She never saw her 100th birthday. In close questioning a pattern began to emerge. Each of Franks episodes of erratic cardiac activity, five in somewhat quick succession, occurred in the presence of either Tina or Tony. Twice in a restaurant, one in the car after stopping for gas and a soda — that Tina brought to him — and the last two inside the hospital as a patient, with Tina at his bedside. Each successive incident was more serious that the prior; Frank’s condition was quickly deteriorating and additional symptoms were appearing. The slow process of multiple organ failure.
We called in a favor. A medical doctor had a more in-depth verbal Q&A session with Frank and came to a similar conclusion. “I can’t say with any certainty, but my educated guess is that somebody was very probably dosing him with one of the many designer combos that do not show up on routine tox screens.”
One nagging question for me — I asked why he didn’t just go to the police? Or the feds? Or the dog catcher? Or the insurance company that wrote the $1.5 million policy?
Frank responded that he did not know which company wrote the coverage. “I was taking like 20 different medicines. I remember signing a form so Tony could buy a policy to take care of my sons and daughter. That’s all I remember, not what company. And I could never find any of the paperwork; Tina took it all.” And then he asked the question that had come in all too many previous life investigations.
Frank: Can’t you check some kind of an all insurance company database and find out which one insures me? I called MIB, but no cigar.
There it was, the weakest link in life insurance. Company A has no way of knowing if there IS a Company B, nor if there is a C, a D or an XYZ. The truth was that Frank might have had a half dozen policies from a half dozen carriers — and the chances of discovery after the fact ranged somewhere between “barely a chance” and “a snowall’s chance in hell.” Frank was not aware of how it worked — or didn’t work — but there is no doubt that Tony possessed full knowledge that major companies do not share policy information with their competitors. Further, there is no way to monitor those who are “active beneficiaries.” In the case of MIB records, a simple typo or transposition of digits can put a spoke in our ID wheels.
In yet another blast from the past moment, my mind spun back to the May/June 1999 issue of The John Cooke Fraud Report, this time to the story “T’il Death Do Us Part.” Remembering the result of that article, and that the cooperative information sharing response from countless SIU investigators throughout the US had come within hours of apprehending three Palestinian cousins who had a very bad habit of meeting, marrying, insuring and murdering women. They’d hightailed it back to Ramallah, 48-hours ahead of the feds, with nearly $2 million in deadly fraud proceeds. Was there a lesson to be learned in 1999 from those three senseless deaths? Like the Little Dutch Boy who stuck his finger in the hole in the dike… did the insurance industry plug the hole?
As we’ve preached since we began printing, nearly two decades ago, the best weapons in the arsenal against fraud are communication and education.
With these two magic words in mind, here is a list of some of the things that are in the “Frank File” being compiled in multiple e-storage spots.
- Transcription of multiple conversations.
- Names (including A/K/As), addresses, social security numbers, DOBs,
- Specific deaths, relationships, family overlaps,
- Death claims already made,
- Suspected tax dodges, money laundering,
- Drug sales,
- Business fronts, and national alliances.
We make no assurances as to the validity of the information we have thus far compiled, however given that every lead we did dig into proved credible, we will continue our discussion with Frank and share what we learn with interested (and documentable) agencies.
The five separate deaths we’ve further scrutinized are all very similar and do indeed suggest a pattern. It may be a leap of faith or an overactive imagination, however it is also possible that there is a very real reason to carefully consider Frank’s “concerns.” They look like random heart attacks. There are always witnesses. Some of the same names keep popping up. Sometimes the same witnesses. Each has a sizeable life policy. The cases are thus far centered in (or have close ties to) FL, NJ, NY, CA, TX, AZ, IL and WA.
Contact the writer for additional information.