Fraud News: Workers’ Comp and Disaster Aid Fraud, Staged Crashes

October 31, 2017
Mississippi Woman Arrested in Worker’s Comp Fraud Case

A Mississippi woman has been arrested in a worker’s compensation fraud case.

Attorney General Jim Hood said Wednesday, in a news release, that 35-year-old Francine Owens is accused of giving misleading statements to Indemnity Insurance Company of North America, claiming she was not receiving secondary income while receiving worker’s compensation benefits. While receiving those benefits, however, it was discovered that she had another job and did not provide that information to the insurance company.

Owens turned herself into the Hinds County Sheriff’s Department. Bond information was not available. Jail officials did not know if she was represented by an attorney.

Hood’s office says Owens, if convicted, would face up to five years in prison and $15,000 in fines.

Louisiana Man Pleads Guilty to Stealing Disaster Aid

A Louisiana man has pleaded guilty to stealing federal disaster aid he received for last year’s catastrophic flooding in East Baton Rouge and 11 other south Louisiana parishes.

Acting U.S. Attorney Corey Amundson, in a news release Thursday, said 42-year-old Courtney D. Hickman, of Baton Rouge, admitted stealing $26,362 in Federal Emergency Management Agency funds. He entered the plea to theft of government funds.

Hickman filed a fraudulent claim with FEMA seeking disaster assistance for a home that he claimed was his primary residence. At the time of the storm, however, Hickman was living elsewhere and was renting his home to a tenant for four months before and throughout the period of the August 2016 flooding.

Connecticut Man Faces Prison for Staging Crashes

Federal prosecutors are seeking more than a year in prison for a Norwich man convicted in an insurance scam involving staged car crashes in eastern Connecticut.

Jonas Joseph is scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in New Haven.

Prosecutors say Joseph was involved in six bogus accidents in and around New London County between March 2013 and February 2014, which resulted in a total loss to insurance companies of more than $95,000.

They say he was part of a group that staged more than 50 crashes dating back to 2011.

Prosecutors say most of the crashes were single-vehicle wrecks on remote roads, where the drivers would hit a tree or other object, then leave the scene while the policyholder entered the vehicle and called for help.

Florida Woman Accused of Sinking SUV for Insurance Money

Authorities say a Florida woman had her SUV driven into Grand Lagoon and then pretended the vehicle had been stolen.

The News Herald of Panama City reported Saturday that 65-year-old Debra Jenkins was charged with insurance fraud. She was arrested after a man spotted a submerged SUV in the waters.

The Bay County Sheriff’s Office said in a report that a stick was found inside the vehicle on the driver’s floorboard to possibly hold the gas pedal.

Jenkins initially told authorities that the SUV had been stolen the night before. According to an arrest report, Jenkins later told police that she and a friend had devised the plan to get rid of the vehicle and claim the insurance money.

It’s unclear if she has a lawyer.

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