Copy Cat Fraud?


Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. Along similar lines regarding fraud, some criminals think that if a scam worked once, why not try it again. (After all, why reinvent the wheel?) A story posted on tells about a California woman who claimed she was burnt by a cup of spilled hot coffee.

The article states that a California woman purchased a cup of coffee at a fast food establishment drive-thru. Unfortunately, she stated that the lid was not tightly secured causing it to spill on her right hand. (How many times have we heard this copy cat tale?) The injured woman submitted a claim including photos validating her second-degree burn to her insurance provider. She also claimed workers’ compensation benefits.

According to state claims officials, it became apparent that the photos had been copied from the Internet along with hospital documentation that did not belong to her. Suspicions were further compounded after the woman’s medical provider was contacted. Unfortunately, the fast food chain’s insurer had already paid out $2,000 to the woman for her alleged injury.

The 38-year-old woman turned herself into authorities and is currently free on bail. She is facing 21 felony counts at her upcoming preliminary hearing. It is important to remember that this woman is innocent until proven guilty.

Regardless of the outcome in this case, it remains instructive. Workers? compensation fraud can be easy to perpetrate and the methods easy to repeat. Let’s hope the only ones who learn from this case are the investigators and not future copy cats waiting for an opportunity to strike.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Woman Arrested for Fraud, Claims McDonald’s Coffee Caused 2nd-degree Burns,” posted on on November 10, 2014.

SAN BERNADINO, Calif. (KABC) — A Victorville woman faces charges of insurance and workers’ compensation fraud after falsely claiming that she suffered second-degree burns from spilled McDonald’s coffee.

Selena Edwards, 38, claimed when she purchased a cup of coffee at a McDonald’s drive-thru, the lid wasn’t secured and spilled on her right hand.

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.