Departure from the Usual

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17264746 - death certificate

There are plenty of stories about workers who fake an on-the-job injury in order to collect workers’ compensation insurance benefits. Today’s article departs from the usual. A Toledo, Ohio woman committed workers’ compensation fraud by taking advantage of her boyfriend’s injury to collect more than $18,000 in benefits following his death.

The Ohio woman’s boyfriend suffered a legitimate injury that entitled him to receive workers’ compensation benefits, which were loaded on a pre-paid benefits card. (Unfortunately, the article did not reveal the nature of the man’s injury, but noted that he passed away. The fraud occurred when his girlfriend neglected to inform the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) of his death.)

The girlfriend continued to withdraw funds from her boyfriend’s benefits card for more than a year after his passing. The ongoing theft was identified by a BWC internal claims specialist, who noticed that although the man had died, his monthly benefits continued to be withdrawn. The agency immediately stopped paying the benefits and an investigation revealed that the woman was the benefactor. (Fortunately, the woman made the right move by claiming responsibility when questioned, reporting that she had used the funds to pay her bills.)

The 58-year-old woman from Ohio who committed workers’ compensation fraud pleaded guilty to attempted grand theft. The judge ordered her to pay $18,576 to the BWC and serve five years of probation. (The alternative was to serve 10 months in prison.)

While the girlfriend may have experienced financial hardship following the death of her boyfriend, her actions don’t justify the crime. (Congratulations to the internal claims processor who suspected something was wrong and did something about it.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, “Toledo woman convicted for taking late boyfriend’s work comp benefits,” published by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation on October 20, 2017.

A Toledo woman who cashed her late boyfriend’s work comp benefits for more than a year after his death must reimburse the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation more than $18,000 or serve 10 months in prison, a Lucas County judge ruled Oct. 5.

The judge ordered Suzette Hedrick, 58, to reimburse BWC $18,576 and serve five years of probation after she pleaded guilty to attempted grand theft, a fifth-degree felony.

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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.