Smokies Wildfires Devastate Tennessee Communities

1632399_1280x720The recent wildfires that quickly ripped through Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains threatened the lives of tens of thousands of residents in the Gatlinburg area. The fire, likely a result of arson, has already claimed the lives of 11 people as of Friday morning.

Right now, insurance company representatives are in the field staffing catastrophe centers and working non-stop to assist victims in rebuilding their lives, their homes and their businesses. As hard as these professionals work to quickly handle the thousands of claims that these kinds of events generate, there are always some victims who experience additional pain—not from the fires, but from greedy scam artists and unscrupulous contractors.

After a natural disaster salespeople go door to door in damaged neighborhoods, offering cleanup or repair services. While many of these are honest and reputable, others are not. The dishonest ones may pocket the payment without completing the job or use inferior materials and perform shoddy work not up to code.

NICB suggests you consider these tips before hiring a contractor:

  • Get more than one estimate
  • Get everything in writing.  Cost, work to be done, time schedules, guarantees, payment schedules and other expectations should be detailed
  • Demand references and check them out
  • Ask to see the contractor’s driver’s license and write down the license number and their vehicle’s license plate number
  • Never sign a contract with blanks; unacceptable terms can be added later
  • Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until the work is finished and ensure reconstruction is up to current code
  • Make sure you review and understand all documents sent to your insurance carrier
  • Never let a contractor pressure you into hiring them
  • Never let a contractor interpret the insurance policy language
  • Never let a contractor discourage you from contacting your insurance company

You can download our disaster fraud brochure and other fraud awareness materials here.

If you believe you have been approached by an unscrupulous contractor or adjuster, or have been encouraged to fabricate an insurance claim, contact your insurance company or call the NICB toll-free at 1-800-TEL-NICB (1-800-835-6422). You may also text keyword “fraud” to TIP411 (847411) or report it online by visiting our Web site at

NICB News: Fall 2015 – The Aftermath of the California Wildfires

In this edition of NICB News we feature the devastation of the wildfires in northern California, a look back at the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the latest Hot Wheels report and more.

To view previous episodes of NICB News click here.

Insurance Fraud Headlines for June 9, 2015

Here are the top insurance fraud stories for today:

* Caught on Camera: Electronic Device Used to Unlock Truck (NICB Blog)

* Three teens sentenced in Manchester vehicle arson spree (Union Leader)

* Beware of used cars flooded in Texas (USA Today)

* The Storm after the Storm (60 Minutes/CBS News)

* Attorney describes Indianapolis house explosion as stupid, selfish insurance                     fraud gone awry (Fox News)

Insurance Fraud Headlines for May 26, 2015

Here are the top insurance fraud stories for today:

camero1* Nearly 500,000 Camero Thefts Have Occurred Since 1981(NICB)

* 30 more arrested for fire, water damage home insurance fraud (Tampa Tribune)

* Worker’s Compensation Fraudsters Caught Faking Injuries (ABC 20/20)

* An unusual car-theft trend hits Palm Springs (The Desert Sun)

* Car Sellers Beware, Attorney General Reports (Pine Bluff Commercial)

* Women, trucks, commercial vehicles prime targets for accident-stagers (Las Vegas Review Journal)


Insurance Fraud Headlines for May 4, 2015

Here are the top insurance fraud stories for today:

* Woman submits more than half a million dollars worth of fraudulent claims (Patch)

* Two face fraud charges stemming from insurance claims (Palm Beach Post)

* When Licensed Professionals Commit Insurance Fraud (New York Law Journal)

* Buddz’s Employees Testify in Iowa Arson Trial (KTIV News 4)

* Couple arrested on fraud charges (Minden Press-Herald)

City of Detroit Being Plagued by Arson Fires

In this edition of Fraud Files we take a look at how the city of Detroit has been plagued by arson fires featuring an in-depth print series on the seriousness of the issue. The series touched on many aspects of the arson problem including arson-for-profit rings. Roger Morris has more on the issue in the video below.

Man Gets 4 to 10 Years for Lighting the Match in Pet Shop Arson


Kirk Bills (AP)

Last week we reported on the story about two individuals who set fire to a Las Vegas pet shop where 27 puppies and dogs were rescued when the building’s sprinkles doused the arson fire. Gloria Lee was sentenced last week to 5 to 14 years in prison for arson, insurance fraud and attempted animal cruelty.

On Monday co-defendant Kirk Bills was sentenced to 4 to 10 years for his involvement in the case. Clark County District Court Judge David Barker said Bills acted “hand in hand” with former shop owner Gloria Lee.

“You’re the one who chose to light the match,” the judge told Bills. “You couldn’t have possibly not known those were living creatures in these cages.”

The incident sparked intense interest and protests from animal rights advocates after Lee was arrested in Las Vegas shortly after the fire. The animals became the focus of an ownership battle before they were raffled in March to raise money for local animal shelters.


Woman That Set Fire to Pet Shop Sentenced to Prison

Gloria Lee

Gloria Lee was sentenced to five to 14 years in prison Courtesy: Las Vegas Review-Journal

Gloria Lee, 36, was sentenced yesterday to five to 14  years in state prison for torching her Las Vegas pet store with 27 puppies and dogs inside. Lee was caught on surveillance video removing files while co-defendant Kirk Bills poured liquid on the floor around locked kennel cages and ignited it.

The pet shop, Prince and Princess, sprinkler system was able to douse the flames and saved the lives of the 25 puppies and two adult dogs inside the store.

During ther trial, Lee revealed that she is pregnant, but the news did not put off the lengthy sentence in the case. Prosecutor Shanon Clowers said the pregnancy announcement was simply an attempt at garnering a “get out of jail free card.”

Lee pleaded guilty in October to arson, insurance fraud and attempted animal cruelty charges in a plea deal that had 28 other charges against her dismissed.