Fraud News: Contents Fraud, Staged Auto Crash Busted; New Workforce Safety App

February 24, 2017
Louisiana Woman’s Contents Valued at $1000 in Bankruptcy and $100,000 After Fire Loss

A Monroe, La., woman pleaded guilty to mail fraud in a scheme where she lied on U.S. Bankruptcy Court filings and insurance documents, according to United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley.

Lasandra Laverne Edwards, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen L. Hayes to one count of mail fraud. The plea will become final when accepted by U.S. District Judge S. Maurice Hicks. According to the guilty plea, Edwards filed for bankruptcy in October 2013 and valued her furniture and clothing at $1,000. In November of 2013, Edwards purchased a renters’ policy that valued her assets at $100,000. Edwards’ house caught fire and burned on December 1, 2013. The defendant attended a creditors’ hearing associated with her bankruptcy case on December 10, 2013. She reaffirmed the information in the previous filings that her furniture and clothing were valued at $1,000. However, the next day on December 11, 2013, Edwards filed a claim under her insurance policy with State Farm falsely stating that her personal property was valued at $116,063.

Edwards faces up to 20 years in prison, one to three years of supervised release, restitution and a $250,000 fine. The court set a sentencing date of June 1, 2017.

The U.S. Trustee’s Office – Region V, Louisiana State Police and Monroe Fire Department investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tennille M. Gilreath and Cytheria D. Jernigan are prosecuting the case.

New Washington Smartphone Apps Reinforce Workplace Safety, Train Teen Workers

Improving workplace safety just got easier with two new free apps available from the Washington Department of Labor & Industries (L&I). They were developed with grant money awarded by L&I’s Safety and Health Investment Projects (SHIP) Program. Both can be downloaded for IOS or Android devices.

The SHIP Program funds innovative projects that prevent workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities and help injured workers return to work.

“We hope all employers will give these apps a try,” said Jenifer Jellison, program manager for L&I’s SHIP grant program. “They’re convenient, easy to use in the workplace, and offer a great new way to prevent injuries and reinforce safe work practices.”

The Good Observation, Near-Miss and Accident Reporting app provides a simple and effective way to document safety incidents in the workplace. Employers can use it to photograph a safe practice, a near-miss or an accident, and then use the finger-drawing tool to markup the photo. A quick-report feature lets you save the photo, add a few details and send to others in your organization.

The new workplace safety tool was developed by three companies working together ‒ John W. Shervey & Associates, Shuchart Construction and Mellora ‒ using a $45,735 SHIP grant.

The app is suitable for most industries and can be used for training, hazard recognition, risk analysis or process improvement. There’s also a Spanish version, and there’s a YouTube video that shows how to use the app. Download the app at WA-HSEQ app.

California Couple Use U-Haul Truck to Stage Auto Crash

Paige Nolasco sentenced in felony insurance fraud scheme, according to the Sacramento, California District Attorney’s Office. She was sentenced to 90 days in jail, five years probation and order to pay $1,781 in restitution.

On April 30, 2016, Nolasco’ girlfriend rented a U-Haul truck and purchased insurance. Nolasco and her girlfriend intended to stage an accident and use the insurance money to repair Nolasco’s previously damaged car. The plan was for the girlfriend to run into Nolasco’s vehicle with the U-Haul and pretend they were strangers. The girlfriend backed out of the plan at the last minute. Nolasco proceeded to jump into the driver’s seat of the U-Haul and ran into her own car.

On May 9, 2016, Nolasco filed an insurance claim against U-Haul alleging someone driving a U-Haul hit her car. Subsequent investigation revealed Nolasco and her girlfriend lived together and were not strangers. Law enforcement also discovered evidence that the alleged damage to Nolasco’s car existed prior to the truck rental date. Nolasco later admitted to staging the accident.

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