Five New York City men were charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in connection with a scheme to obtain fraudulent insurance reimbursement and other compensation for fraudulent slip-and-fall accidents, according to a joint announcement by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the FBI and the New York City Police Department.
“As alleged, these defendants employed one of the oldest plays in the fraudster handbook – the fake slip-and-fall routine – to develop a network of ‘fall victims’ to obtain an astonishing $31 million in fraudulent insurance and compensation payouts. Allegedly, some of the ‘victims’ went as far as having unnecessary surgery to increase the likelihood of a higher settlement,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman.
According to the indictment, since 2013, the defendants have been engaged in a widespread fraud scheme whereby the defendants defrauded businesses and insurance companies by staging slip-and-fall accidents and filing fraudulent lawsuits arising from those staged slip-and-fall accidents. The fraud scheme participants recruited individuals to stage slip-and-fall accidents at particular locations throughout New York City and to claim that they injured themselves as a result of their accidents. The recruited patients were directed to claim that they had injured themselves and to seek medical treatment.
After the staged slip-and-fall accidents, recruited patients were referred to specific attorneys who would file lawsuits against the owners of the accident sites and/or insurance companies of the owners of the accident sites (the “victims”). The lawsuits did not disclose that the recruited patients had deliberately fallen at the accident sites or, in some cases, had not fallen at all. During the course of the fraud scheme, the defendants, together with others known and unknown, attempted to defraud the victims of at least $31,791,000.
The recruited patients were also instructed to receive ongoing chiropractic and medical treatment from certain chiropractors and doctors. The fraud scheme participants advised the recruited patients that if they intended to continue with their lawsuits, they were required to undergo surgery. As an incentive to getting surgery, the recruited patients were offered a payment after they completed surgery as well as a percentage of any settlement payment from their lawsuit.
Peter Kalkanis, a former chiropractor, was the organizer and leader of the scheme. As alleged in the indictment, he paid his co-defendants to recruit patients into the scheme and transport the patients to medical and attorney appointments. Kalkanis also organized the recruited patients’ legal and medical appointments, and assisted in procuring the funding for the recruited patients’ medical treatment and lawsuits.
Bryan Duncan, Kerry Gordon, Robert Locust and Ryan Rainford helped recruit patients into the fraud scheme, transported patients to medical and legal appointments, identified potential accident sites and coached recruited patients on faking their injuries.
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