Taking a Bite Out of Fraud

May 15, 2000

Thanks to the Arizona Department of Insurance Fraud Unit, the Department of Public Safety, the Phoenix Police Department, and the help of a forensic odontologist, a 30-year-old Phoenix man with a broken front tooth who is suspected of staging numerous slip-and-fall accidents was arrested and charged with insurance fraud.

According to Fraud Unit Chief Terry Cooper, several slip-and-fall accidents have occurred in restaurants and department stores throughout Arizona during the past year. In each case, the subject uses a different name. In this case, the suspect is identified as Barney Miller.

Cooper explained that usually two or more subjects would enter the restaurant or store, and one would go into the restroom and loosen plumbing pipes causing water to spill onto the floor. Moments later, he would come out of the restroom claiming water on the floor caused him to slip.

In this case, the subject further claimed to have sustained an injury, hitting his mouth on the counter and/or fracturing his right hand. After seeking medical attention at a local hospital and dentist, the suspect would file a claim with the business’ insurance company.

The Insurance Fraud Unit began matching the claims with X-rays taken of the subjects’ teeth. The fraud unit contacted Dr. John Piakis, a local forensic odontologist. The X-rays revealed that all of the claims were made by the same individual.

On March 24, Miller was taken into custody when he picked up his insurance check. His teeth were then X-rayed and were matched to the individual making the fraudulent claims.

Miller and others are believed to have received several thousand dollars in payment for fraudulent claims.

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Insurance Journal West May 15, 2000
May 15, 2000
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