Suspect willingly lets hand be cut off in alleged insurance fraud scheme
You’ve got to hand it to three insurance fraud suspects in South Carolina. The trio allegedly cooked up a scheme that’s one of the strangest you’ll ever come across.
|Gerald B. Hardin of South Carolina has been charged in an alleged insurance fraud scheme that netted more than $670,000.|
Gerald B. Hardin, 34, of Cayce, S.C., was arrested on charges in a six-count indictment alleging that Hardin and two collaborators hatched a more than $671,000 scheme in which one of the participants intentionally had a hand sawed off. That participant, who is not identified in court records, agreed to let a hand be cut off by the two others so they could reap claims payments from a home insurance policy and three accidental death-and-dismemberment policies, according to the indictment.
Jim Quiggle, a spokesman for the nonprofit Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, says: “There’s no going back once you cut off your hand. Amputation speaks to the desperation or idiocy of people who literally wanted a helping hand to allegedly scam a few insurance dollars. This con went more than skin deep, and now the suspects are knee deep in legal trouble.”
Dean Eichelberger, the assistant federal prosecutor who’s handling the case, says he can’t comment on whether Hardin’s two alleged accomplices will be charged.
Federal authorities accuse Hardin and another person, who also is unidentified, of using a pole saw to chop off a hand of the third person in 2008. A pole saw is a small chainsaw that’s attached to the end of a pole; it’s used to trim tree branches.
Hardin and his two cohorts collected a $375,000 check from the insurance policy for the home where the “intentional dismemberment” happened, and five checks from the accidental death-and-dismemberment policies totaling $296,125, according to the indictment. Insurance company The Hartford issued all six checks, which added up to $671,125.
Hardin is charged with six counts of federal mail fraud. On each count, he could be sentenced to 20 years in prison and be fined $250,000. Hardin was released from jail on a $100,000 bond.