Fraud News: Bragging on the Golf Course and Driver Switch Scam

Montana Man Brags About Workers’ Comp Benefits While on the Golf Course

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox announced the conviction of a man charged with fraudulently collecting nearly two years’ worth of workers’ compensation benefits from the Montana State Fund.

Whitefish resident David Howke pleaded guilty in Montana District Court Wednesday to a criminal theft charge related to fraudulently collecting over $27,000 in workers’ compensation benefits from the Montana State Fund between April 2013 and March 2015.

Howke filed a claim with the State Fund in December 2012 for a work-related injury. The State Fund accepted the claim and paid medical benefits, continuing bi‑weekly temporary total disability (TTD) benefits of $822 based on information that Howke could not return to work due to the injury.

In November 2014, Montana State Fund received a confidential fraud tip that Howke was working “under the counter,” and played golf all the time, bragging that he played up to 36 holes of golf daily. Under Montana law, a person who knowingly or purposely earns wages while also collecting TTD wage-loss benefits is guilty of theft.

In January 2015, the State Fund referred an allegation of theft to the Montana Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation. The Division of Criminal Investigation found that Howke failed to disclose to State Fund that he was capable of working and/or, in fact, was working and earning money while also receiving approximately $27,478.23 in temporary total disability benefits from State Fund.

Howke, who pleaded guilty in Montana District Court to the theft charge, was given a five-year suspended sentence to the Montana Department of Corrections and ordered to pay back $27,478 in fraudulently collected benefits to the State Fund.

California Couple Arrested for Driver Switch Fraud Scheme

Lamont Goodwin and Sylvia Camarillo were arrested recently by California Department of Insurance (CDI) detectives on multiple felony charges of insurance fraud after allegedly submitting a fraudulent claim and filing a false police report in an attempt to bilk their insurer out of $18,000 for damages not covered by their insurer.

In May 2016, Goodwin was driving and involved in an auto accident, according to a report taken by the responding officers from the Tustin Police Department. Following the accident, Goodwin and his domestic partner, Camarillo, allegedly lied to their insurer reporting that Camarillo was the person driving the vehicle and Goodwin was a passenger.

Based on the police report, the insurer denied the claim because Goodwin was an excluded driver on the policy, so the accident was not covered. Before receiving the police report, the carrier paid $18,000 to the credit union that held a lien on the totaled vehicle.

After the claim was denied, Camarillo and Goodwin filed a complaint with the Tustin Police Department accusing the responding officers of racism and lying on the police report. An internal affairs investigation was initiated by Tustin Police Department.

Suspecting fraud, the insurance company and the Tustin Police Department reached out to CDI, which launched a fraud investigation that determined Goodwin was, in fact, the driver and Camarillo was not in the car at all or at the scene. Both Goodwin and Camarillo allegedly conspired to file a fraudulent claim so the insurance company would pay for damages that were not covered under the conditions of the policy. The investigation also uncovered that the pair filed a false police report accusing the Tustin police officers of lying on the original traffic report.

Goodwin and Camarillo were booked into the Orange County Jail. Bail was set at $30,000 for Goodwin and $30,000 for Camarillo. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the case.