Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino and the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor (OIFP) announced that a Bergen County man has been charged in an insurance fraud scheme in which he allegedly used the death of an acquaintance to try to cash in a $500,000 insurance policy he had fraudulently obtained in the name of another man.
Donald Blake, 45, of Maywood, was indicted on second-degree attempted theft by deception and third-degree counts of conspiracy and insurance fraud in the alleged scam that began with the death of a man who apparently died in his sleep at a home in Elizabeth in November 2013.
According to prosecutors, the dead man, who was an acquaintance of Blake, was deliberately misidentified to authorities as “John White,” who purportedly lived with his “son-in-law” Blake and had died while visiting relatives.
Four years earlier, Blake had taken out a $500,000 life insurance policy with Household Life Insurance in the name of his father-in-law John White. Blake attempted to cash in that policy upon the death of the man in Elizabeth, prosecutors said.
In reality, Blake had no father-in-law named John White, and the John White whose personal information was listed on the Household Life Insurance policy is alive in New York and has no apparent connection to Blake, prosecutors said.
“We are alleging that this was an elaborate scheme concocted to steal half a million dollars from an insurance company,” said Attorney General Porrino. “This defendant allegedly took out a sham life insurance policy in the name of a stranger, then spent years just waiting for someone to die so he could cash it in.”
“When you strip away the macabre details of this alleged con, it’s a classic example of the kind of fraud that undermines the integrity of the insurance system,” said Christopher Iu, Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor. “When dishonest people lie and cheat to illegally collect payouts, it drives up costs for everyone.”
Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000; third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $15,000.
Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Iu noted that some important cases have started with anonymous tips. People who are concerned about insurance cheating and have information about a fraud can report it anonymously by calling the toll-free hotline at 1-877-55-FRAUD, or visiting the Web site at www.NJInsurancefraud.org.