Fraudsters don’t usually think about what they could lose if caught and prosecuted for being involved in a scheme that bilks a government program of tax-payer dollars. Some of the most common rights lost when someone is convicted of a felony include voting, travel abroad, the right to own or use guns, jury service (some might be happy about that), the ability to obtain certain types of employment, public social benefits, housing and parental benefits. Today’s fraudster from Columbus, Ohio committed worker’s compensation fraud and subsequently lost his workers’ compensation benefits and his freedom.
The Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) reports that in 2017, nearly 43 percent of criminal convictions were claimants who were working while collecting workers compensation benefits they were not entitled to receive. Today’s fraudster was one of those convictions. (He was working while receiving benefits – one of the most common ways to commit workers’ compensation fraud.)
Here’s how the story goes. The Columbus man was previously injured while working as a motorcycle escort for funeral processions. (They don’t go very fast. How could he have possibly injured himself?) The injury qualified him to receive workers’ compensation benefits. (At some point, though, he got greedy and went to look for a job or two, actually. Why not collect as much money possible?)
A tip was received at the BWC and investigators set up surveillance to collect evidence that showed he was clearly working while receiving workers’ compensation benefits. (If you’d like to see the camera footage, take a look at this.) The BWC discovered that the Columbus man was working for two different funeral homes driving vehicles that led funeral processions while also collecting disability benefits from the state bureau. (In fact, he did so on 29 occasions over five months.)
The 66-year-old fraudster confessed to his crime and cooperated with the BWC. (That was definitely a good move since he was caught red-handed.) He was convicted of a fifth-degree felony, which usually means a six to 12-month prison sentence. (He got lucky and received six months in prison.) The fraudster must also pay restitution of more than $10,400 to the BWC.
While most claimants return to work and notify the BWC that they no longer need the temporary compensation, this man committed a blatant crime. The BWC presents an explicit warning message on the workers’ compensation form that the fraudster had to sign prior to submitting his claim to request temporary total lost time benefits. (Here’s a direct quote from the form, “I understand I am not permitted to work while receiving temporary total compensation.” What more do you need to drive the point home?) Fraudsters always make mistakes, and this case is no different.
Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, “Funeral home worker convicted of felony comp fraud,” posted on BusinessInsurance.com on January 30, 2018.
An Ohio man must reimburse the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation more than $10,400 after pleading guilty to workers comp fraud Wednesday in a Columbus courtroom.
Bureau investigators conducted surveillance and collected evidence proving Columbus resident Oran Lewis, 66, worked for two different funeral homes in 2015 while collecting disability benefits from the bureau. Mr. Lewis was injured in 2014 while working as a motorcycle escort for funeral processions, the bureau said Friday in a statement.