Two Elderly Women Arrested for Insurance Fraud
May 19, 2006
The Los Angeles Police Department is asking the public's help in
finding persons who may have been contacted by either of two women
suspected in running a life insurance scam over the past several
years. The women are 75-year-old Helen Golay and 73-year-old Olga
Rutterschmidt. Both women were arrested today on federal mail fraud
"These women tend to target homeless men," said LAPD Commander Harlan Ward. "They offer room and board in return for the man’s signature, then open life insurance policies on the man, making themselves the beneficiaries."
Los Angeles police traffic investigators discovered the scam during the investigation of a fatal hit and run last year. One investigator casually mentioned in the squad room how unusual it was that two women had taken out large life insurance policies on a hit-and-run victim, 50-year-old Kenneth McDavid. Another investigator recalled having a similar case in 1999. When they compared notes, they found the beneficiaries in both cases were Golay and Rutterschmidt, and the hit-and-run victims were both homeless men.
The death investigations of both men, McDavid and Paul Vados, 73, were re-opened and assigned to Robbery Homicide Division. Investigators formed a task force involving the FBI, the United States Attorney’s Office, the California Department of Insurance, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the Los Angeles County District Attorney.
"The investigation brought us to this point today," said lead LAPD investigator Dennis Kilcoyne. "While we continue to investigate the deaths of these two men, we had to put a stop to the women’s activity. We’ve watched them make contact with other men, we believe, for the purposes of setting up more life insurance policies."
Armed with federal search warrants and a criminal complaint, FBI special agents, Los Angeles police detectives, state insurance investigators, and postal inspectors searched 2 locations this morning. Rutterschmidt was arrested at her home at 1776 N. Sycamore Avenue in Hollywood, and Golay was arrested at the triplex she owns at 424 Ocean Park Boulevard, Santa Monica.
Both women were arraigned in a downtown federal court this afternoon.
Special agents from the FBI froze Golay and Rutterschmidt’s assets. Investigators estimated that the women had collected over $2.2 million in life insurance pay outs.
"Given the scope of this fraud and the fact that it may be more extensive, the FBI will continue to provide the necessary resources, either in Los Angeles or around the country, to this joint investigation," said J. Stephan Tidwell, who is the Assistant Director of the FBI in Los Angeles. "All of us in law enforcement share the common goals of providing justice to the victims and securing the integrity of the insurance system."
Sixteen policies had been taken out on Kenneth McDavid and three on Paul Vados.
"These two women appeared to be preying and profiting on the most vulnerable persons in our society," said State Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi. "The residents of California are also victims in these kinds of schemes through the higher premiums they pay. I am committed to prosecuting this type of fraud, and others like it, to the fullest extent."
Since the insurance forms are sent through the US Postal Service, the United States Postal Inspection Service was brought into the investigation.
"As members of the federal law enforcement community, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service is committed to cooperation between agencies in achieving our ultimate goal, to protect the American public from criminal attack," said Keith Tyner, Assistant Postal Inspector in Charge. Postal Inspectors aggressively investigate those who misuse our nation's mail system to carry out their fraudulent schemes."
Detectives believe the women would trade room and board for as long as two years. Detectives found the store at which Rutterschmidt would order signature stamps of their targets’ signatures. Detectives believe the women used the rubber signature stamps to complete insurance forms.
According to state law, once a life insurance policy has been in force for 2 years and a day, the insurance company has a more difficult time contesting any apparent fraud in the opening of the policy.
Anyone with information in this case is asked to call Detectives Dennis Kilcoyne or Rosemary Sanchez at 213-485-2129. On weekends and during off-hours, call the 24-hour toll free number at 1-877-LAWFULL (529-3855), or the FBI's hotline number at 310-477-6565.
I think this is a great effort to improve communication between the police and the community and an exellent use of technology.
Perhaps more of this mode of progressive forward thinking can be applied to other areas of policework.
Posted by: Bobby | May 19, 2006 at 06:00 PM
This seems to be very common. In New York City I had a similiar case years ago. They targeted homeless men that were "accident prone". Insured them using "key man" insurance in a non existent company. One victim was struck by a City Bus and the insurance company paid one million dollars, no questions asked.
Posted by: Paul Caltabiano | May 20, 2006 at 05:38 AM
Just a comment, this blog is a great idea. I hope that you are successful with this campaign. Gets the public involved and returns that feeling of safety to "Joe Public." Good Job, keep it up. I hope every other department across America takes a page from your book, again great job
Posted by: William Waters | May 20, 2006 at 11:58 AM
This is great!! Why are there not more of these?? Maybe there should be more of these on Friday and Saturdays nights. Maybe MADD could help.
Posted by: Marty Billings | May 20, 2006 at 02:15 PM
The woman with the big smile for her mugshot on the right is a bit scary. The mugshot on the left looks more like you'd expect -- the lady is freaked out at being arrested.
This is a terrible crime but a fascinating story about how these women (allegedly) set up this whole scenario.
Bet those ladies might be a little cheesed to be called "elderly," but that's the least of their worries now!
Posted by: Mark | May 20, 2006 at 05:40 PM
Boy, there are some sick people out there...
Posted by: Anonymous | May 20, 2006 at 06:27 PM
These women put Paul Vados in a spanish speaking neighborhood where no one in the building he lived for his last 2 years spoke any english. No phone and no money as they had his social security sent to Helen Golay's address in Santa Monica. They paid his rent and his policies with his own income. They also buried him in the wrong cemetary without a head stone.
Anyone who knew Paul Vados knew he was a caring father and husband and all around nice guy.
If anyone knows anything about his envolvement in the late 90's with these women please contact the LAPD and maybe post here too.
I am Paul's daughters boyfriend of 27 years and he will be sadly missed by his daughter and me and all the others who knew him.
Posted by: Randy Hansen | May 24, 2006 at 09:15 PM
Great work on the part of the two investigators who realized what these women were up to.
Posted by: Cate | May 25, 2006 at 12:08 AM
I am shocked that two elderly ladies can pull off something like this. I am Hungarian and I have lived in this city for almost 20 years and this is really a shame for the Hungarian community. I hope Olga Rutterschmidt and her partner get the maximum penalty and I hope that the victims of the families will get some kind of compensation.
Posted by: Al | May 26, 2006 at 10:25 AM
What a trip! These woman are scandalous. It's a crying shame that these women obviously have such little respect for human life.There day of reckoning will come,and not from the court system! GOD BLESS the victims.....
Posted by: Stephanie | May 26, 2006 at 01:51 PM
These two women will face the ultimate justice system one day. There has to be a special place in hell for those who commit their crimes against the weakest and the most vulnerable in society!
Posted by: Anne | May 27, 2006 at 02:21 PM
Is it just me or for does these two women look like the two men but with nose jobs & eye lifts? I'm looking at the article above that is also in People magazine and it's just uncanny the resemblances. Look at Olga Rutterschmidts eyebrows and Vados's. Even the brow bone is the same. The hairline is high like Vados's. It looks like the two men could be pulling the scam to me. I mean it just looks like they had nosejobs and made themselves into women? They would get the money. Look at the eyebrow bone on Helen Golay and the eyeshape? I noticed that the chins are the same as well. I'm probably wrong but in the People magazine with this article it's just so weird I had to say something. I don't mean any disrespect to the deceased if I'm wrong which I probably am.
Posted by: Heather | May 31, 2006 at 02:53 PM
I can assure Heather in her May 31st comments that she is wrong. Helen Golay is a female at least since age l5 yrs. when I met her and she resided with me. Bonnie
Posted by: Bonnie | August 17, 2006 at 07:25 AM
Search for in all major search engines simultaneously on the site http://www.iknowall.com.
Simultaneous search on Google, Yahoo and MSN Live Search.
Posted by: iknowall | June 01, 2007 at 08:51 AM
This key man stuff is such an easy "hook" for con men, in insurance fraud cases, you've got to wonder when--ever--are lawmakers going to take a really close, close look at this too-easy-to-manage loophole?
Posted by: Jack Payne | July 10, 2007 at 10:48 PM
The ability of these to gals to pull this off is unbelievable. First question: Whey weren't the insurance company's investigators, themselves, unable to establish the non-existence of any insurable interest here? I'd think the lack of family links would be the first big red flag.
You hear of something like this every now and then, and it always amazes me that these seemingly obvious connections--or lack thereof--cannot be quickly exposed. I write constantly on con games of all kinds, and have seen nothing to match the brashness of this.
Posted by: Jack Payne | September 04, 2007 at 04:28 PM
i cant beleive that . how can someone be so fraud.
these people should be behind bars
Posted by: Power Cat Yacht Insurance | September 05, 2007 at 07:28 PM