In $1.2 Million Fraud Plot, Four Women Invented A Man Then Killed Him Off

September 3, 2010 2:17 p.m.

Just how low did four California women go to make a quick buck ripping off insurance companies? Six feet under.

Federal Bureau of Investigation headquarters today highlighted a recent conviction in a scheme by four individuals in the Los Angeles area to invent a man out of whole cloth, hold his funeral, and then reap in the insurance benefits from his death.

A simple scheme this was not — they went as far as to stage a funeral with paid actors, claim expenses for an extravagant funeral package and buy a burial plot for “Jim Davis.” The fake funeral they actually held, however, was a simple affair featuring only a handful of fake family members, and the defendants allegedly pocketed the difference.

Jean Crump, a former mortuary employee, was found guilty last month, joining three other women who together defrauded insurance companies by filing $1.2 million in false claims.

The scheme began to fall apart once two insurance companies started looking at the claims and assigned an investigator to look more closely at rip-off.

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Once those in on the scheme got word the feds were snooping around, they unearthed the coffin with the supposed remains of “Jim Davis” and re-filled the casket with a mannequin and cow parts. Then they sent it off to the crematory, and filed false documents stating “Davis” had been cremated and his ashes released into the Pacific Ocean.

The 67-year-old Crump was found guilty last month on two counts of wire fraud and one count of mail fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

The other defendants included 61-year-old Faye Shilling, who pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud; 64-year-old Barbara Ann Lynn, who previously pleaded guilty in relation to the scheme; and 35-year-old Lydia Eileen Pearce, the mortuary owner who pleaded guilty as well.

Fake funerals aren’t a tool used exclusively by the bad guys, however. The FBI itself staged a fake funeral to lure members of the Hutaree militia into federal custody back in March.

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