Monday, July 26, 2010

bad boys

So, remember a long time ago, when I said work was crazy?
It's finally less crazy. We had a couple-month-long ordeal going on, and I finally have time to explain.

Just to get everyone caught up, I work at a life insurance company, not doing important things, really, just the bookkeeping stuff. I don't sell policies or answer questions about them - those are agents. We are the 'home office' and my boss does underwriting calls and the other lady does claims. I take the money. Our office in Bismarck has a bunch of agents (I don't even know a number.. just a bunch) and we have one agent in our office. Most of our business is done by mail from Bismarck & back. Alot of that paragraph isn't all that relevant to this story, but now you know.

One day just after Christmas this year, a tall black man came in wanting to buy life insurance. (later to find out he's either Kenyan or Somalian) Usually when this type of person walks in, they want auto insurance, even though the name of our company has 'life & casualty insurance company' in it and is printed on both sets of doors from the outside.. maybe they consider automobiles to be casualties? Anyways, our agent happens to be in (he goes to people's homes to sell insurance, so he's usually not in the office except to make appointments & other phone calls), and fills out an application with the man. Throughout the week, the man comes back to change what he wants for insurance. First it was just him, then he wanted it for his 8-yo son as well. Then, they were both getting $20,000 policies, and a few days later, he wanted his son's to be the max, which is $50,000.

So they are both approved, and during the time the man keeps coming in (most people call, but he would be hard to understand on the phone) both the agent & my boss have chatted with him a few times. He says that the 8-yo is his only child, and that his wife already has life insurance through her employer - ok and ok.

Fast forward a few months, May 2010. The man comes in and wants to speak with the agent. Agent is not in, will be in on Monday morning. Ok, the man comes back Monday morning and brings the agent a death certificate for his son. But the man is not sad, and the death occurred only days before. The certificate is from Kenya.  A bunch of red flags go up for my boss and the first one is that, there is no official seal on the death certificate and it looks like it is printed on a typewriter. For all we know, that really could be how they do it, and we tried to Google to prove otherwise, but nothing really helpful came up. My boss happens to know that in the US, it takes at least a week for us to get a death certificate from the family. The story from the man goes like this: His father died in Kenya in February, and he, his wife, and son went to Kenya to have the burial ceremony in April, but they only had enough money for him to come back. The son was sick & died of Malaria and the wife is 7 months pregnant and is still in Kenya and she has the fever.

So we're all 'this is waaayyy to fishy' and my boss hires a private investigator here in town. He's all excited, I'm pretty sure this has been his biggest case. I can't even believe there is such a thing as a P.I. in Fargo! LOL! Later, she told her boss (in Bismarck) about this and she's thinking that the ND Insurace Dept. should know about this, or would be able to help her disprove this death certificate, or know what steps to take to investigate a fraud. I mean, who knows! Her boss says don't bother, but a few days later, she just has to know and decides to call the Insurance Dept. anyway. Thank goodness she did because they have a new position there called an Insurance Investigator (or something like that..), so there is someone there who has been investigating insurance frauds and he started in like January. He's going to help us.

Or so we think. So my boss calls and 'fires' the local P.I. and this man takes all kinds of info over the phone. And a couple weeks later, pretty much all he's found is a picture of the kid. Which tells us that the kid really does exist, but not whether he's dead or not. It's a school picture. Then later, the insurance investigator says that he can't do interviews with basically anyone because he's a peace officer (from the state of Alaska) and he'd have to read their rights. But he can't read rights when there hasn't been a crime. Something like that, confused me.

So we hire the origial P.I. again, and he is finally able to obtain records from public housing, landlords, public health, etc. The now-9-yo is not the only child, in fact, they have 6 kids. Their public housing says that they over over their capacity at their apartment, that there can only be 2 people per bedroom and the baby doesn't count. Wait... there's a baby. A 3-month old baby. I thought she was 7 months pregnant in May..? And some records showed that she was making phone calls to the housing authority or whomever. Obviously not making phone calls from Kenya, right? That whole bit was a lie. Lots of other bits were lies. The kid is not dead and we did not pay out $50,000. If we had there'd be a much bigger punishment for actual insurance fraud, but he'd also be the heck out of town by now! So as of right now, our last update from the insurance investigator (who was able to use the evidence from the P.I. to complete the investigation) is that an arrest will be made by the end of the week.

Especially for our tiny company and office of 3 women!


  1. Im so glad someone was paying attention. People get away with fraud, whether it be insurance or welfare, way too much. Good for your office!

  2. Wowza! That's some good drama! All I get at work is pissed off adolescents swearing and throwing things at me... lol!

    Oh, and I bet there are lots of P.I.s is Fargo. My uncle is a private investigator here in Grand Forks.


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