Going on the Lam…How’d that Work Out?

41664067 - senior woman using a walker

If you’re on the run for a crime, it is best not to taunt law enforcement officials. The website 10News.com reports that a San Diego woman, who was convicted for insurance and disability fraud, fled to Mexico to avoid sentencing. (Did she really think she wouldn’t be found?) After allegedly posting a few social media messages including one that read, ”Catch me if you can,” the woman was finally caught by law enforcement officials. (She must have enjoyed the thrill of the chase.)

The article states that the 61-year-old woman had been convicted of 29 felony counts tied to payments from insurance companies for faked injuries. Further research revealed that the woman received more than $664,000 in disability payments while working for Amtrak as a clerk. She allegedly held policies with multiple insurance companies and submitted claims to six stating that she had been injured after a fall in her home. Insurance investigators caught her red-handed with evidence that showed she was able to drive, walk and climb stairs without assistance. (It appears that she used the insurance payments to travel the world.)

While out on $500,000 bail during her two-month trial, she skipped the reading of the verdict and headed to Mexico. (Why not get in one more trip before heading to jail?) While on the run, the con woman supposedly posted daunting tweets on her Twitter account. However, the article states that information was received by the District Attorney’s office that suggested someone else had posted the messages. Nonetheless, law enforcement officials tracked her down approximately 15 miles south of San Diego in Rosarito Beach, Mexico and arrested her on July 4th. (I bet there were definitely some fireworks going off.)

While in absentia, the woman was sentenced to a 20-year, four-month sentence for the disability and insurance fraud. Following her arrest in Mexico, she was given another two year and three month prison term for failing to appear in court, which will be served consecutively.

Being ”on the lam” is not as glamorous as it might seem in movies and television shows. This fraudster’s attempts at ”pulling the wool” over the eyes of the justice system have failed and the con woman has received a fair sentence for her criminal actions. It looks like the joke is finally on her.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Woman Who Fled to Mexico after Fraud Conviction Sentenced to Additional time in Prison,” published on 10News.com on January 7, 2014.

SAN DIEGO – A woman who fled to Mexico after being convicted in a San Diego insurance and disability fraud scam was sentenced Tuesday to a nearly three-year prison term, to be served consecutively to the 20-year, four-month sentence she received in absentia for the fraud case.

Wanda Lee Ann Podgurski, 61, pleaded guilty Nov. 1 to failing to appear in court while on bail.

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Larry Benson
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.