Fraud in Style

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I’m told many women find spas to be a sanctuary – a place to blow off steam and forget the stresses of regular life. But with ”blowing off steam,” typically comes some physical effort. According to an article in Southern Maryland Online, one woman had a difficult time finding peace in the spa; rather, she was more interested in the fraud aspect than the massage.

A former U.S. Postal Service employee will be spending five short months in prison, followed by five months home detention and three years of supervised release after being convicted of workers’ compensation fraud. During the five day trial, the story became clear? the Maryland woma? suffered a head and neck injury working as an employee for the U.S. Postal Service, and she began receiving workers’ compensation benefits in 2001 (okay, no problem). However, court records indicated that in 2005, the woman became ineligible for the benefits when she began working at a job where she operated a salon, day spa and fitness center. During her trial, witnesses reported the fraudster performed physical tasks on a daily basis at the salon, a feat she claimed on government forms she was unable to do. (It looks like this spa diva won’t be getting any pampering for at least the next five months, while she sits in jail.)

The investigation was a combined effort by the U.S. Postal Service, Office of the Inspector General; U.S. Department of Labor; and local authorities. (This is a great example of agencies working together to bring down fraud.) But, why the involvement of multiple agencies for one fraudster? Well, it appears she seemed to have her hands in a couple pots – lying to the U.S. Postal Service about an injury and lying to the U.S. Department of Labor about holding a job at the salon while still collected workers’ compensation benefits.

Increasingly agencies are working together to bring down fraudsters. Whether we find them in the local spa, or filing away our mail, these combined efforts have the ability to locate and capture even the toughest fraudsters. My advice to our fraudster? get your hair and nails done before your stint in jail – the spa services aren’t what you’re used to on the inside.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Mechanicsville Woman Sentenced for Federal Disability Fraud,” published by Southern Maryland Online on March 28, 2013.

GREENBELT, Md. — Chief U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow sentenced Darlene M. Altvater, age 48, of Mechanicsville, Maryland, late yesterday to five months in prison, followed by five months home detention and three years of supervised release, for two counts of making false statements to obtain federal disability benefits. Chief Judge Chasanow also ordered Altvater to pay restitution, with the exact amount still to be determined.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Paul Bowman of the U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General; and Special Agent in Charge Michael S. Barcus, U.S. Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations.

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Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.