Quite literally, people in Vernon were shooting themselves, blowing off a limb, and collecting on the insurance. How the trend started, no one knows — perhaps it was an accident at a sawmill or with a plow, or perhaps it was a calculated effort to scam an insurance company out of tens of thousands of dollars (or more). Truly, it doesn’t matter. For when word got out that so-and-so just received a check for untold riches — and all it cost him was a hand or foot, perhaps even to the elbow or knee — well, the idea spread. By the time the early 1960s rolled around, according to the Tampa Bay Times, Vernon, Florida was responsible for roughly two-thirds of all loss-of-limb-related insurance claims in the United States.
Read about the end of the scam and the fate of Vernon at Dan Lewis's Now I Know.
Link | Image: IFC Films