Global Pirates:
Fraud in the Offshore Insurance Industry

Robert Tillman
Northeastern University Press, 2002
174 p.



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Table of Contents:

Chapter 1: The Alan Teale Empire
Chapter 2: Opening Up Those Golden Gates
Chapter 3: Promises, Promises
Chapter 4: Fantasy Islands
Notes / Index

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In 1990, a congressional subcommittee warned of “financial knaves and buccaneers” in the insurance industry-unlicensed and largely unregulated companies that operate out of countries like Antigua and the Cayman Islands and sell hundreds of millions of dollars in worthless insurance policies to unsuspecting Americans every year. Increasingly, when a fire, car accident, or medical emergency strikes, policyholders suddenly find themselves victims of a global con game as phone calls are not returned and claim settlements fall to materialize, resulting in financial ruin if not physical harm.

Global Pirates is a critical investigation of international insurance fraud. Robert Tillman portrays the often surreal world of the burgeoning offshore insurance industry; a world in which sophisticated white-collar criminals operate beyond the reach of government regulators to set up elaborately orchestrated scams that drain illegal profits out of the $3 trillion U.S. insurance market. He also describes how the new global economy allows these scam artists to take advantage of rapidly changing financial markets and the regulatory environments that surround them. Drawing on congressional hearings, court documents, published articles, and interviews with law enforcement officials, Tillman uses numerous case studies to illustrate degrees of insurance fraud: simply ignoring auto, medical liability, and worker compensation claims while citing NAFTA exemptions to local regulations; selling bogus policies to businesses in “redlined,” low-income neighborhoods and to high-risk drivers abandoned by legitimate auto insurers; and falsifying multinational subsidiaries, assets, and even identities of company principals. He examines how “fantasy islands” are created, explores emerging connections between offshore entities and money laundering, drug cartels, and organized crime, and discusses how outlaw insurers evade prosecution by setting up complex financial networks that crisscross national boundaries.

Tillman’s timely analysis of this rapidly growing transnational criminal activity concludes with solid recommendations for steps that governments can take to protect their citizens from global insurance fraud.


>> British Journal of Criminology: “Tillman’s book is well worth reading and a useful addition to the literature.”

>> Contemporary Sociology: “This is a first-rate book. It is well written and carefully argued.”

>> International Criminal Justice Review: “Overall, this book succeeds in making a highly complex set of frauds comprehensible, and their relationship to globalization and deregulation is clearly spelled out.”

>> Security Management: “Tillman has written an excellent introduction to this highly complex issue. While the book targets offshore insurance practices, it applies equally to almost any offshore criminal enterprise….This book is an excellent choice for dealing with a complex subject.”