Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Weird Crime Wednesday: Insurance fraud is never a good way to make money...even if your friends tell you having your hand cut off is worth it.

(photo @

Sumter County, South Carolina

One evening in May of 2008, Gerald B. Hardin and two of his friends came up with a scheme that would potentially make all three of them rich.  Their idea involved defrauding multiple insurance companies with false claims, which by itself isn't terribly original and doesn't have a very high probability of success.

As anyone who has dealt with homeowners insurance is well aware, these guys don't mess around. You can't just submit a claim that says "HOLY CRAP CTHULU JUST RAN THROUGH MY HOUSE" and expect to get a payout.  There needs to be physical evidence that an accident/catastrophe truly did happen (and caused you damages) that's covered by your policy.

But someone in this trio of masterminds (reports do not say which one) happened to have a very lucrative homeowners insurance policy. They realized that if one of them also took out multiple personal insurance policies that left him well covered in the case of accidental death or dismemberment, the payout would be enormous if one of three were to have an in home "accident."

In what had to be the most intense game of rock/paper/scissors (or drawing straws) that has ever taken place, someone ended up losing, bought the personal insurance policy, and agreed to have their hand cut off with a pole saw.

Like this, only without the ability to request a "best out of three" tournament

For those unfamiliar with what a pole saw is, below is a video of some dude in a blue bandana using one to cut tree branches (while completely bizarre/unsettling music plays in the background).

After the screaming and massive amounts of blood subsided a bit, the man was transported to a Charlotte hospital where doctors were unsuccessful in their attempts to reattach his hand.  Afterwards, the trio cashed in on the homeowners and personal insurance policies to the tune of $671,125 (most of which hopefully went to the dude that gave up an extremity).

Their insurance companies, however, were justifiably skeptical about the sequence of events and subsequent claims that were filed.  Once the FBI got involved (presumably because they crossed state lines for their hospital visit), it wasn't too long before one of the stupidest "get rich quick" schemes ever conceived was discovered and shut down.

Gerald B. Hardin was released on $100,000 bond (!) and is currently awaiting trial.  His fellow conspirators have yet to be charged or identified, although one of them definitely won't be clapping at the end of The Avengers movie when it comes out on May 4.

If convicted, Hardin faces the possibility of 20 years in jail along with a $250,000 fine.

Actual mugshot of Gerald B Hardin @
...and a lifetime of people shooting him nervous glances when he offers to "give them a hand."