Police: man burns down house in attempted insurance scam

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NEW WHITELAND, Ind. — A New Whiteland man has been charged with arson after an attempt to defraud his insurance company, police say.

Michael Moss, 43, was arrested on Monday following discrepancies in his stories to the fire marshal, a police detective and ATF agents.

According to court documents, on the evening of March 25, police and fire departments responded to a fire at Moss’ home on Ashland Avenue that caused extensive damage to the property. A police investigation began after Moss’s story changed multiple times in discussions with the fire marshal.

A sofa chair in the kitchen, near a back door was believed by the fire marshal to be the source of the fire. Moss first claimed that he was moving the chair outside when he heard an electrical sound that could have been the start of the fire. Shortly after, he said that a cigarette lighter had fallen from the sofa while he attempted to move it outside and could have somehow caught the chair on fire.

The fire marshal then discovered that the back door that Moss claimed to be open while he was moving the chair outside was indeed shut while the fire happened. This discovery raised suspicions and prompted the fire marshal to contact a police detective.

In a voluntary interview with ATF agents, Moss’ story changed several more times. He claimed to have lit the lighter, accidentally starting the fire, and then claimed he started the chair on fire to burn it down small enough to fit through the door. He finally admitted to setting one room on fire to “get ahead,” but did not intend to burn the entire house down.

Insurance documents provided to the police detective later showed that a fire damage claim of the Moss property was submitted by phone approximately one hour after the 911 call that reported the fire, court documents said.

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