Back in March 2009, a customer of PEMCO insurance was in a minor car accident, and the company paid out $3,452 for damages to the other driver’s car. Simple enough. No injuries were reported, and no pets in the car. Which is why it caught some PEMCO employees’ attention when the other driver filed a claim two and a half years later, seeking $20,000 for the death of his cat, Tom. The animal was “like a son” to him, he claimed. But “Tom” only existed as photos of someone else’s cats, readily available on the Internet. The state of Washington has charged the man with felony insurance fraud.
There are many things that the alleged fraudster did wrong here: he asked for too much money, waited too long, submitted no vet or necropsy records, and–this is the key error–never actually owned a cat. But arguably the best clue investigators had were the photos he submitted of a living “Tom.” They were of different cats, and looked astonishingly similar to the top results of a Google Images search for “white cat.”
PEMCO had issued the man a check for $50, an insurer’s idea of the value of an actual dead cat. They stopped payment after discovering the scam.
Man faces charges after claiming $20,000 for fake dead cat [Press Release] (via Huffington Post – thanks, Anti!)