Dust Bunnies

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Business owners in the state of Ohio are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC). Today’s fraud case involves the owner of a Northwest Ohio cleaning business who let her company’s workers’ compensation insurance coverage lapse. Instead of renewing the policy, she dealt with the issue by hiding behind a former employee to commit workers’ compensation fraud. (She left her former employee with quite a mess to clean up.)

Employers commonly have to provide a certificate of coverage when initiating contracts with other business or government organizations. This requirement protects the business owner and the employee in the event of an on-the-job injury. (Business owners prevent huge financial losses in the event an employee sues and injured workers get the medical care they deserve.)

An investigation was opened by the BWC after the Putnam County Sherriff’s Office received a complaint from a woman who formerly worked for the business owner’s cleaning company. The former employee claimed that after filing her taxes, the state notified her that she would not be receiving a tax refund due to a debt owed on her cleaning business. (Imagine her surprise when she discovered she owned a business.)

The BWC jumped on the case quickly after the former employee revealed that she had never owned a cleaning business. The organization quickly confirmed that she was telling the truth. It turns out that the business owner had opened a separate BWC policy under the former employee’s name following the lapse of her businesses’ workers’ compensation policy. (That’s worse than finding a colony of dust bunnies under your bed.)

The 63-year-old cleaning business owner’s dark crime was exposed when confronted by investigators. (Just as many people tend to ignore the need to vacuum, dust and tidy up, this cleaning lady tried to sweep her crime under the rug.) She pleaded guilty to two third-degree felony counts of tampering with records. When sentenced, she could get up to a maximum of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine for her dirty deed.

There are obviously challenges associated with running a business, especially one that requires a lot of physical labor. The costs for a workers’ compensation insurance policy can be difficult to pay in situations like this one where the Ohio business owner may have had difficulty in establishing consistent clients. (No matter the reason why the cleaning company owner was trying to avoid her responsibilities as an employer, let’s hope she has learned that cutting corners to save money when operating a business usually ends up costing more in the end.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, Cleaning company owner soils record in workers’ comp schemepublished by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

A northwest Ohio woman with lapsed workers’ compensation coverage pleaded guilty last month to felony charges of tampering with records after investigators found she obtained new coverage under her employees’ names to avoid paying her debt to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC).

Donna Roethlisberger, owner of Complete Cleaning of Northwest Ohio, pleaded guilty to two third-degree felony counts of tampering on July 20 in the Putnam County Court of Common Pleas. Third-degree felonies carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

 

 

 

 

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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.