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, 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.