Fraud News: Fake Oil Spill Claim, Policy Purchased After Damage, Mail Fraud

June 13, 2018

Man Gets 3 Years for Filing False Oil Spill Claims

Federal authorities say a man charged with filing fraudulent claims in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster has been sentenced to just over three years in prison.

A recent U.S. Attorney’s Office news release said that 62-year-old Joseph Bassler also faces a money judgment of $77,224. He pleaded guilty last June.

Prosecutors say Bassler was a licensed tax preparer who assisted companies after the 2010 oil spill in filing business loss claims. He filed inflated claims on behalf of his clients.

Officials say as payment for his services, Bassler accepted a portion of the recovery money from the claims he submitted. He submitted 62 claims, and three were paid off, with Bassler and his clients receiving over $600,000 more than they were entitled to.

Pennsylvania Woman Used Settlement Check to Steal From Law Firm

Police say a Pennsylvania woman used an account number from a settlement check she received from the death of her son to steal from a law firm and pay her utility bills.

The Citizens’ Voice reports 44-year-old Michelle Shepard, of New Milford, was arraigned Tuesday on charges of access device fraud, criminal use of a communication facility and theft. Shepard was held on $7,500 bail. No attorney information is available.

Prosecutors say Shepard received a “very sizeable” settlement check from Cefalo & Associates following death of her son in a 2010 car crash.

Police say Shepard made one payment to an electric company using an account number that was linked to the firm’s escrow account. Investigators say Shepard tried to make two other payments after the first one was returned.

Wash. Couple to Serve 5 Days on Work Crew Attempted Insurance Fraud

Colby D. and Jessica C. Getchell, both of Kennewick, pleaded guilty to one count each of attempting to file a false insurance claim, a gross misdemeanor, in Benton County Superior Court on May 31. Each will serve five days on a work crew this month and will and pay $700 in court fees.

The couple was charged in March with one count each of first-degree attempted theft after an investigation by Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s Criminal Investigations Unit (CIU).

According to the investigation, the couple purchased a travel trailer on Sept. 11, 2016. On Sept. 24, the couple bought a Progressive insurance policy and filed a claim for $12,058 the next day, stating a fallen tree limb damaged the trailer’s roof overnight. However, the couple had taken the trailer to the dealer the previous day to get an estimate for the damage that had already occurred. Progressive denied the claim and referred the case to fraud investigators at the Washington State’s Office of the Insurance Commissioner.

Vermont Man Charged in Wife’s Killing Accused of Insurance Fraud

A Vermont man accused in the shooting death of his wife has been indicted on mail fraud charges related to the theft of equipment from his former employer, the Agri-Mark Cabot cheese-making plant in Cabot.

Randall Swartz of Orleans pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder on Monday.

Federal prosecutors said Wednesday that Swartz will be arraigned on the mail fraud charges in the near future.

The indictment says for over 10 years, he defrauded Agri-Mark by buying parts with company funds and using them to build machines sold in his side business selling maple syrup production equipment. He’s also accused of directing other employees to work for that business on company time. Swartz was fired from Agri-Mark in 2017.

Swartz’s lawyer did not return a phone call seeking comment.

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