There are a lot of weird things in American history, especially if we are talking about Florida. In the late 50s and early 60s, this state was all over the national news, due to a little town where people were acting crazy.
Insurance laws can have a million loopholes, particularly a few decades ago when scamming and cheating was a lot easier because of the lack of technology we know today. The people in Vernon, Florida became experts in this type of fraud, and they started to beat the system in a very odd way.
A lot of jobs can be really dangerous, and this wasn’t that weird at those times. Though accidents that caused someone’s limb weren’t a regular thing, they were more common than they are today, so there was a law in the state that helped people that had a kind of accident that left them without one of their extremities by giving them a payout since they couldn’t work anymore.
When the residents of Vernon noticed this law, they started to voluntarily cut their own limbs in order to get remuneration, not before getting any kind of insurance policy that would cover them. The bigger the accident, the bigger the payout, so while some of them just shot themselves, others were more radical and sawed them.
Nobody knows how the whole situation began. One day it was a regular town, and the other people were getting big sums of money because they were missing a limb. It is implied that somebody got a payout for a real accident, and someone started to follow the lead, and eventually, the ‘Nub Club’ started to get more and more members.
As long as they had some kind of justification for the accident, they would get paid. There were paychecks of even $100,000 and higher and people were claiming from different insurance companies, so the net of fraud only got bigger. By the mid-60s, 50 of the 700 locals were part of the ‘Nub Club’.
Even though some of the residents of the town were getting rich, the whole situation caused a big economic crisis for the locality since they had such a bad reputation that the steamboats that used to go there gradually stopped, and the main railroads of the county simply passed the town.
There was no way of getting these people in jail, after all, it was kind of legal. On the other hand, the authorities couldn’t believe that the residents were doing this willingly, so the scam continued until the late 60s when insurers stopped doing business in the area because the Premium rates were too high.
The scam got so out of control that Vernon was known for being responsible for two-thirds of all loss of limbs accidents in the country and was later baptized ‘Nub City’ by documentalist Errol Morris who filed the story of the city in the 1980s, something that made the locals furious and caused Morris to be beaten up.