The Dumbest Insurance Fraud Attempts Ever: #6

A Homeless Man Survives Six Murder Attempts

Mike Malloy, a former fire fighter and engineer from Ireland whose excessive consumption of alcohol cost him his job, was a central figure in one of the most ridiculous insurance fraud attempts in the history of New York City. In the early 1930s, four men decided to get rich by tricking this homeless man into signing three different insurance policies naming them as beneficiaries before helping Malloy to drink himself to death. Everything went smoothly until the four discovered that Mike Malloy was an indestructible man who could withstand much more than they expected.

Chrysler Building Midtown Manhattan New York City 1932

The Great Depression led many Americans to commit desperate acts in order to improve their financial situation. This was also the story of Anthony Marino, owner of a speakeasy that Malloy visited daily basis, bartender Joe Murphy, undertaker Frank Pasqua, and his friend Dan Kriesberg. “The Murder Trust,” as they were called by the press, hatched an insurance fraud scheme that was based on Malloy’s death. The plan was simple: take life insurance policies on Malloy worth more than $60,000 in today’s dollars, give him an open tab at the bar, and wait for the middle-aged homeless man to drink himself to death.

Malloy was more than eager to sign documents that he thought were petitions aimed to place the owner of his favourite speakeasy, Marino, on the ballot for an upcoming election. In exchange for his signatures, Malloy was given free booze and was even allowed to sleep off his hangovers at the back of the bar. Malloy used this generous opportunity and drank as much as he could, but instead of damaging his health and dying, he only created excessive liquor bills for Marino. In fact, his health got even a bit better, as he did not have to sleep in the cold streets every night.

Down and out on New York pier

The four decided to speed up the operation by pouring some antifreeze into Malloy’s drinks. He did not hesitate to drink anything he was given and drank the antifreeze beverage until he passed out. However, to the surprise of the conspirators, he woke up even more thirsty. Stronger doses were not enough, so The Murder Trust tried turpentine, just so they could hear Malloy the next day saying, “pour me a drink, please.” Horse liniment with rat poison was also insufficient, so the four decided to switch to poisoning his food. Malloy was served raw oysters — soaked in wood alcohol — and rotten sardines mixed with metal shavings. Nothing happened, and Malloy even recommended that his friend Marino should open a restaurant.

Trying to poison Mike Malloy started to be an exhaustive as well as pricey operation, so the conspirators decided to freeze the durable alcoholic to death. After he passed out drinking, the four dragged him outside into the wintry New York streets, stripped his clothes, poured ice water over him, and left him lying in a snow bank. Fortunately, Malloy was found by the police and received new clothes from a welfare organization. After Malloy showed up again at the speakeasy, The Murder Trust, both desperate and angry, determined that they needed help. They hired a cab driver, Harry Green, to run over a drunk Malloy for $150. The taxi driver did his part of the arrangement, hit Malloy at the speed of 45 miles per hour, and drove away, leaving Malloy lying motionless in the street.

Blizzard 1888 01

The four waited and carefully scanned newspapers every day, looking for an announcement of Malloy’s death. Three weeks had passed when a bruised Malloy suddenly appeared on the doorstep of Marino’s speakeasy, announcing that he was very thirsty after three weeks of drinking only milk and cocoa. The Murder Trust had enough. They found another homeless man that they got drunk, stuffed Malloy’s ID into his pocket, and ran him over with a cab. However, the substitute victim got away with a concussion, a broken collarbone, and a few bruises.

After putting this much effort and funds into the insurance fraud, the conspirators determined that it was not possible to stage an accident and the only way how to get the insurance money was to murder Malloy. Despite Malloy’s resilience, he was not able to survive when the members of The Murder Trust shoved a gas line down the throat of the unconscious drunk man. They were able to obtain a false death certificate stating that Malloy died of lobar pneumonia with alcoholism as a contributing cause.

800px Sing Sing prison with warden

The conspirators were able to collect one of the three insurance claims, but suspicion grew when the insurance agents weren’t able to find the beneficiary, who was imprisoned because of another crime. The police started an investigation, finding out that there were several rumours of “the durable” Mike. They also discovered a taxi driver who revealed that he was paid to drive over Malloy, and they identified another victim of a mysterious death whose life insurance beneficiary was the owner of the speakeasy, Marino. The four conspirators were found guilty of murder and sent to the electric chair at Sing Sing prison. The taxi driver was given a life sentence.

The LSM Take

A very sad story of corruption.
One factor that wasn’t mentioned and would likely be an issue is whether the beneficiary has an insurable interest to the insured, and in my opinion, this would not be the case in the above story.

Most recent articles

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Mary
    July 31, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    How bout this one how bout an Insurance Company defrauds a widow left destitute by the death of her husband or better still an insurance company who write an Adjustable Life insurance policy not a Universal Life policy like she was told, where the cash value after 20 years is 800. And the death benefit is almost as much.

    • LSM Insurance
      August 1, 2014 at 12:12 pm

      Thanks for the note Mary. Sorry to hear about. You make a good point, it’s very important the insured knows what they are buying and if they have questions they should get a response by the insurance company in writing.

  • SaddamHugeVein
    July 18, 2014 at 7:59 am

    Only 3 lives left for that old cat.

    Best of luck!

  • Petra Bryner
    July 18, 2014 at 5:53 am

    It’s a shame what are some people willing to do for some money. It might be understandable yet not forgivable that desperate times force people to do desperate things, but from the story it’s obvious that these four men were not suffering so much that they would have to beg or steal and definitely not plot to murder an innocent man.

  • Elizabeth Gray
    July 18, 2014 at 5:53 am

    Poor poor bloke that was some story,what an awful time to live through, desperate times, I’m glad the perpetrators were caught and not able to do it to some other poor soul…

  • Trev Hill
    July 18, 2014 at 5:49 am

    As he was homeless he probably wasn’t covered by home and contents.