The Texas Department of Insurance recently reported that seven people were arrested in connection with a scheme to defraud insurance companies by intentionally flooding homes and filing bogus claims with insurance companies. All seven have been convicted or have pleaded guilty to fraud charges. This inspired me to think of the following fictitious script for a television crime drama. (Any similarities to the actual true story aredefinitelycoincidental.)


A cast of shadowy figures moves stealth-like through the cold and damp building on a foggy night, illuminated only by the moon.

The figures, three men and one woman, work diligently, under a minimal amount of light. They go silently about their mission. They know the risks and are willing to take a gamble, because the rewards are even greater.

The essence of the plan is quite simple: introduce so much moisture into the building interior that it would be impossible to pinpoint its exact source or how many people to blame. They believe that the deluge of moisture will set off a biological chain reaction on the indoor infrastructure and substrate, creating havoc the likes of which has never been witnessed before.

The Mold Gang had been plotting their actions for months in advance. They hope to create a damp atmosphere that would lead to the quick and massive growth of mold colonies within a new home, which was owned by the gang leader. The resulting mold growth would be investigated and confirmed by an independent testing lab, leading to a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the home builder, the mechanical contractor, and the local plumbing and heating and cooling contractors, who would also be named in the suit.

While one gang member carefully loosens some of the fittings on the cold water line to the basement bathroom sink and tub, another fills up some buckets with water from the same bathroom taps.

For good measure, one of the gang members has brought along some mold cultures, which he grew in his basement under ideal lab conditions. He carefully “plants” these cultures in various inconspicuous dark and damp areas throughout the house. Each wears booties over their socks and latex gloves to ensure that no incriminating evidence is left behind.

The gang then shuts up the home and allows it to “ripen” for a couple of weeks, carefully sealing up any cracks in windows and doorjambs.

Surely, they reason, the presence of so many mold cultures and the tremendous amount of moisture in the home will result in millions of dollars for negligence, medical bills, and remediation costs. Granted, the gang is not interested in fixing the problem; the members just want to take the money and spend the rest of their days on a beach in Fiji.


I’m not sure how my fictional story will turn out. Perhaps one of the gang members is an impostor, planted by the local chapter of the Citizens Against Mold Proliferation (CAMP) as part of a mold “sting.” But the bad guys will definitely get tripped up somehow.

The criminals, who tried to collect millions of dollars and damage the reputations of innocent businesses, will end up with a lot of time to experience the mold growth in dark and dingy jail cells.

The moral of the story? It doesn’t pay to engage in criminal mold activity. The good guys will always win.

Now, if only I can find a TV producer to buy the script.

John Hall is business management editor. He can be reached at 734-542-6214; 734-542-6215 (fax); (e-mail).

Publication date: 10/28/2002