NJ Man Scams Arizona Insurance Clients

You know, I have worked so hard over the past three decades to provide the best in product, price, AND customer service to insurance clients. The hours have been long, the commitment strong, and as an Arizona independent insurance agent, I found many of my rewards not financial, but highly rewarded by knowing I participated by keeping my industry clean of identity theft and fraud… and our Arizona communities served with integrity and credibility.

Arizona Insurance Agent, fraud and identity theftYou can well imagine my absolute shock when I recently read about a New Jersy native residing in Arizona, who had forged an insurance license and took close to half a million dollars in payments for his personal use. The 43-year old, who never issued policies to the people from whom he took the money, is now wanted on theft and fraud charges… 92 criminal counts as a matter of fact! Fraud schemes, identity theft and theft… his charges run the gamut, and begin in 2005 when he first forged his name on the Arizona insurance license of another agent having the same last name. His actions first came to light in 2013 when the merging of two companies raised issue during a routine background check. The Arizona state insurance fraud investigators unraveled a story that sounded more like a dark fiction novel… the tale of setting up fraudulent bank accounts and diverting premium payments from commercial environmental companies throughout the country.

In Arizona… just shaking my head!  Does the “evil” mind astound you?  I hope you have enjoyed this article; that it has made you think and reconsider just how cautious you must be. What I want to effect with the Identity Theft articles is to show you  how easy it is for almost anyone to fall victim to these predators, and to reiterate if you don’t have some sort of identity theft protection, the financial devastation could be huge.

As part of my insurance portfolio, I do offer an Identity Theft Protection Plan through my professional relationship with Legal Shield. If you would like to know more about this plan, I invite you to review my website by clicking HERE. You can make your purchase right from the website, or call me at 480 720 3600 to discuss any questions you may have about the product and services.

And… if you want more Identity Theft reading, just click HERE.

Making MORE happen for my insurance clients…

Jan Vitale

Arizona Independent Insurance Agent
Proudly serving her clients and her industry for 30+ years

World Chocolate Day

World Chocolate DayThe insurance agent’s job always includes researching! Insurance quotes always mean comparison rating, so we get to be pretty good at this research thing. Once in a while, although we try to stay really focused on the task at hand, something really interesting distracts us. Like the day I discovered I had missed World Chocolate Day, according to one rather distracting source. So I had to find out just what I had missed and how to enjoy what that day represents! According to the resource, we are lead to believe that “July 7th is the true, definitive, purist ‘Chocolate Day‘, so celebrate with some of the high cocoa, rich, dark chocolate that makes you go tingly inside… Or failing that, stock up on chocolate biscuits, ice-cream and enjoy a day of secret treats and indulgence…
Source: https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/chocolate-day/

What would you think if I told you I discovered a really amazing chocolatier in the little town of Wallace, Idaho? The fact the town has just over 700 people doesn’t stop the production and sales of The Eureka Sally Gallery of Art & Chocolate. Nor does it prevent this artist from encouraging her customers to focus on their senses as they smell the chocolate concoctions and dance around her store, with chocolate enticement circulating   through-in and through-out! Her website is a discovery in itself; she tells visitors to, “ slow down, sit back & savor each layer of flavor between sips of wine…   ~hey, dunk it in coffee  ~hey, spread it with peanut butter   ~hey, chip it into cookie batter!!!”

Now, I have to tell you, “As much as I would love to slip over the mountains to see some of Idaho’s majestic landscapes, I need my chocolate fix here in Arizona!” So, off I went… to find who a few of our chocolatiers are here locally and found a few that I will just be popping into on occasion. For example:

  • The Arizona Chocolate Company,
  • The Chocolate Connection in Peoria,
  • Cerreta’s Chocolate Shop in Glendale,
  • The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in Scottsdale,
  • and if you ever visit the historic old town, Jerome… Copper Country Fudge.

Now, how about adding a few little-known facts about chocolate, just to whet your appetite! The source for this information was directly related to my search for World Chocolate Day, where I found the following to be of interest:

  1. Thorntons created the world’s largest chocolate bar: In celebration of its 100th birthday, Thorntons created the world’s largest chocolate bar – weighing a record-breaking 5,792.50kg. A Thorntons staff member, Paul Bell, said: “All staff were asked to come up with ideas of how we should celebrate our 100th birthday and, because Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was my favorite film as a child, I immediately thought of a scene from the film where a bar of chocolate was shrunk and I thought – “wouldn’t it be fantastic to do the reverse and make the world’s largest bar of chocolate?”
  2. The chocolate chip cookie was an accident!In 1930 Ruth Wakefield realized she was out of baker’s chocolate and mixed broken piece of Nestle chocolate into her cookie dough, expecting the chocolate to be absorbed and create chocolate cookies. Instead, she accidentally created chocolate chip cookies, and later sold the idea to Nestle in return for a lifetime supply of chocolate.”
  3. Certain people have threatened, “You can die if you eat too much chocolate.” Is it so? Reports reflect that chocolate contains high levels of a powerful stimulant called Theobromine that has the diuretic, stimulant and relaxing effect, which can cause heart failure, seizures, acute kidney damage and dehydration. However, also reported is that to ingest enough Theobromine for it to be fatal, you have to eat about 22lb of chocolate or 40 bars of Dairy Milk.”
  4. This was my favorite chocolate fact: “We eat a lot of Toblerones. So many Toblerone bars are sold each year that, if they were to be laid end to end, they would go on for 62,000km which longer than the circumference of the Earth.”

I truly hope you have enjoyed this little trivia about chocolate; there will be more to come. How would you like to know just how many fiction novels have been written, where chocolate is the primary “character?”

Jan Vitale
Independent Insurance Agent
Proudly serving her clients, her community, and her industry for 30+ years

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinknews/11722935/World-Chocolate-Day-10-weird-chocolate-facts.html

Famous Insurance Fraud Claims

Insurance Fraud ClaimsThe insurance agent is in the position of providing coverage, as best meets the needs of the insured… can you imagine how they would feel, knowing they had inadvertently participated in insurance fraud claims?

This past week I have found myself rather fascinated with providing Social Media posts about famous insurance fraud claims – and the statistics that accompany what I have found!

Insurance Fraud Statistics

For example, from businessinsider.com I found the following:

Insurance fraud drains more than $50 billion from insurers each year and costs the average U.S. family between $400 and $700 in the form of increased premiums, according to the FBI.

Interestingly enough, as I read through these famous case I found the perpetrators were not what you would call masterful criminals. Some of the stories I found were of amazingly brilliant  escapades; others… well, what is that phrase, “Stupid is as stupid does!”  The alleged frauds came in all venues; those putting in the effort – well, they ran the gamut: from grannies to cops and from the boy next door to desperate business owners.

Like a Horror Movie…

I found it really hard to believe the following story:

It was like reading the script for a horror movie! A certain Gerald Hardin was charged with… chopping off his friend’s hand for a $670,000 dismemberment claim. Using a small pole type chain saw normally used to trim tree branches – off went the arm – in went the claim!  Of course, as should go the way of misdeeds, the trio who concocted the scheme faced hefty fines and jail time.

Desperate Measures…

What about the desperate store owner? One NBC story I read about was of two New York City business partners who, in their desperation, planned what they thought was the ultimate resolution to save their jewelry store. Hiring two men, dressed in Hasidic garb, the partners staged the robbery, and to cover up the part they played, they poured drain cleaner into the cameras – hoping to spoil the footage – before filing a $7 million claim with Lloyds of London. Unfortunately, they didn’t count on the acumen of the local police who were able to salvage the security footage and discovered… the partners removing the jewels a full two hours before the staged heist!  Their goal of $7 million netted them first-degree insurance fraud and other not-so-savoury charges.

Let’s look at just one more before I wrap up this post!  See, I told you – it is fascinating to what measures people will go and the use they make of the gift of creativity they’ve been given.  Astounds me!

The Man Who Didn’t Exist…

This was a story covered by KABC-TV about how four women actually “made up” a man, and then set about faking his death, staging a funeral and going to the expense of a tombstone!

A complex and rather a creepy scheme, if you ask me… not only did they falsify all the particulars of the man and his death, they paid actors to attend his funeral, posing as mourners should anyone question… all to claim $1.2 million in life insurance benefits. The complexity came in the form of the mortuary worker’s involvement with the three other women after two separate insurance companies had questions sufficient to launch an investigation. The quick-witted women, not to be outdone, unearthed the casket, filled it with a mannequin and cow parts to ensure the proper weight and sent it to a crematory… filing paperwork stating the man had been cremated and the ashes strewn in the Pacific Ocean.

Of course, I was a bit dismayed to find there was no real “wrap” on this story… about which I would love to know the ending!

Do you have any interesting insurance fraud stories to share?

Jan Vitale
Independent Insurance Agent
Proudly serving her clients and her industry for 30+ years

Professional Dress Codes in Flux

As an Insurance Agent who has been in the industry for any length of time, I have seen trends come and go; one that recently caught my attention was how significantly “dress” has changed for those who travel!  Apparently, there was a recently incident involving a JetBlue passenger whose clothing was too scant for the liking of the gate agent! Although the issue was resolved with the passenger purchasing pajamas, for which she was reimbursed, and a $200 credit toward her ticket provided, the situation certainly poses the question of whether our travel attire – or perhaps lack thereof – has gotten out of control!

So… I just had to do a look back to a time when it was a part of traveling – getting to purchase the clothing appropriateTravel attire, 1960's for the occasion.  I looked at the 1950’s because I was sure there was a distinct variance, but thought it best to begin in the 1960’s – a period of time in which I actually experienced travel fashion.  No sweatpants or leggings worn as pants; suits and hats brought a certain touch of class and civility to a journey.travel attire 1970s

Fast forward to the 1970’s and although we had some crazy bell-bottoms and shorter skirts adorned flight staff, it appears the standard dress for travelers was still the smart, black tie attire. “Casual” trended mightily during the 1908’s; power suits, shoulder pads, and double-breasted blazers were out; high-waisted, acid-wash jeans more the norm.

We also lost the tiny, pre-wrapped soaps, bad airplane food has been replaced with little to no food on most flights, pillows and blankets were in vast supply and luggage were not a separate, exorbitant charge! Over-sized luggage was not considered, and Tylenol dispensed by short-skirted attendants was not a litigious act; you could pack whatever you wanted, liquids sloshed around at will, and the little plastic aviator wings were cherished!   But lest I digress… we were on the topic of travel attire!

Travel attire 1990'sThe 1990’s brought about a resurgence of class…  according to books of the time, “Global Business Etiquette: A Guide To International Communication And Customs” by Jeanette S. Martin and Lillian H. Chaney,” and “International Business Etiquette: Europe,” by Ann Sabath, the importance of chick clothing and makeup, tailored look with minimal accessories were the new norm for women travelers.

Travel attire 2000'sTravelSmith was a company that changed the face of women’s travel clothing… providing lightweight, packable and wrinkle-resistant, as great options for a cruise or safari, or simply for everyday comfort. A far cry from the shapeless garments we see today, travelers shopped for wrinkle-free, indispensable & reversible travel dresses, stylish tunic tops, lightweight sweaters, wraps, vests, pant sets, waterproof rain gear, and a robust selection of pants, shorts, skirts and swimwear, comfortable intimates and sleepwear, shoes and other accessories designed for travel. Function won out!

Today… I truly believe “comfort” takes the front as we see wide-leg jeans, sweaters, sweatshirts and footwear that assuages the fuss and fury of going through security! Are we teetering on the edge of public indecency with scant clothing? Do companies like JetBlue have not only the right but the responsibility to rely on their written contractual language relative to “Refusal to Transport” to include “Refusal or removal [of a passenger] may be necessary… fo a person… whose clothing is lewd, obscene, or patently offensive?” Aside from the “look” of travel attire, which may always test us, editor, David Jeffreys, brings up a great question of the safety of short shorts and what he called, “peek-a-boo glutes.” His contention is the morality issue is a far cry from the lack of safety in wearing bedroom slippers and flip flops that might not allow for quick, safe exit from a plane, or the slick, shiny fabrics used to construct sports ware that is known to quickly melt in a fire… all reasons to resort to prudent thinking, if not social acceptability, when choosing comfort, protection and far less potential to offend!

Myself? Well, I have to say, “There is just something to be said about a woman who “dresses to the nines” for travel!” It speaks of elegance, being evolved, and maybe even “respecting the glamour” of travel. This standard would only call for putting in a little effort, especially since first impressions DO count, and whether it is a fellow passenger who might be impressed enough to follow up with a business potential – or, heaven forbid – you should have to wear what you have on once you arrive at your final destination.  There has to be a middle ground between looking good, and easily getting through security, managing the distance between gates, and being comfortable on long flights.  We just have to rethink of the gap between pajamas and formal wear!

But, if your clothes prevent you from getting past security swiftly, booking it to your gate, or sitting comfortably for long, extended flights… well, then, you’ve just got to rethink!

Jan Vitale
Independent Insurance Agent
Proudly serving her clients and her industry for 30+ years