Insurance scammer gets more charges Isabel Parker, 71, who was convicted in slip-and-fall schemes in N.J., is charged with filing bogus claims in Pa.

Posted: July 02, 2003

Prosecutors say 71-year-old Isabel Parker was no retiree. Her slip-and-fall insurance schemes were like a job - and she kept very busy.

They say the Deptford woman filed a total of 49 bogus personal-injury claims in Philadelphia, Delaware County and New Jersey and collected $500,115 between 1993 and 2000.

Parker - who authorities said yesterday had been charged in connection with 20 bogus claims in Philadelphia and Delaware Counties - would fake falls and injuries in supermarkets, department stores, liquor shops, and other stores, according to a detective's affidavit.

Then, using multiple phony names, Social Security numbers, and addresses, Parker settled her claims over the telephone with insurance companies - for payouts ranging from $455 to $27,640, according to the detective's sworn statement. She pleaded guilty last summer to 29 counts of insurance fraud and theft in New Jersey, and is currently serving her four-year sentence under house arrest at her Jefferson Boulevard home.

"This problem is not just one of taking money from the insurance companies," Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham said yesterday. "When people put up phony claims . . . this costs us, the ratepayers, a big chunk out of our pocket. That's why our rates go up."

Delaware County District Attorney G. Michael Green said: "In this part of the state, I think it's common knowledge that the rates for property and casualty insurance are higher than they are elsewhere in the commonwealth" in part because of fraudulent claims.

"We're going to prosecute anyone who's involved in insurance fraud . . . because it has a direct impact on the pocketbook of every household," Green said.

Abraham and Green said Parker faced additional charges in connection with eight allegedly fraudulent claims in Philadelphia and 12 more in Delaware County - together worth a total of $231,414.

It was an alert Nationwide Insurance Co. claims representative who first suspected fraud, after a woman calling herself Delores Hahn wanted a quick $22,500 settlement for a Nov. 30, 1999, fall at Bell Beverage in South Philadelphia, according to the detective's affidavit.

The Nationwide employee became suspicious because the woman was available only by cellular phone and had no permanent address. In addition, no one saw the woman fall over a neat pile of folded cardboard boxes, as she had claimed before requesting the store's insurance information.

In checking a database of active insurance claims, the employee found an extensive list of claims with the same addresses the woman provided.

"The suspicion was raised about Ms. Parker and this claim, and that began to peel back several layers," Abraham said. "It took a lot of time to do this, because she used so many aliases and combinations of names."

Sometimes, Parker used her sisters' names for claims, Abraham said.

Nationwide referred the case to the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office. Using records subpoenaed from Parker's banks, detectives were then able to trace back dozens of settlement checks.

Now, Parker faces multiple counts of insurance fraud, theft, forgery, and receiving stolen property in Philadelphia and Delaware County.

Abraham added that the complex investigation continued.

"We're not convinced yet that we know all of them," Abraham said. "She had no known employment that we are aware of - she was employed in the business, we allege, of committing insurance fraud."

Contact staff writer Jacqueline Soteropoulos at 215-854-4497 or jsoteropoulos@phillynews.com.

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