What a Dumbbell

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 One would think that someone with a back injury receiving workers’ compensation benefits would be smart enough not to go to the gym and lift heavy weights. A former Sheriff’s deputy from San Diego, California, who claimed he was unable to work due to an on-the-job injury that was not witnessed by anyone, did just that. (His workers’ compensation fraud scam was busted after investigators from the Sheriff’s Department visited the former deputy’s gym and recorded him lifting some pretty heavy dumbbells.)

Here’s how the story goes. In August 2016, the former deputy was arrested and charged with domestic violence. He ended up pleading guilty to vandalism, was placed on probation and credited for time served in jail, and, was ordered to participate in a domestic violence program. (Interestingly enough, he was not fired, but placed on administrative duty.)

In January 2017, while working on light administrative duty, he claimed to have hurt his back lifting two five-pound water bottles. (But no one actually saw the incident happen.) He continued to complain that the pain he was experiencing from the injury was too severe, even for light duty. So, he stopped working and was approved to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

When the deputy’s injury did not appear to be healing, unbeknownst to him, investigators followed him to the gym to see what he was up to. (What they found was quite impressive for someone who supposedly had a back injury.) Investigators filmed him doing dumbbell chest presses with 80-pound weights in each hand, 315-pound dead lifts from floor to hips and 600-pound leg presses. (But, remember that it was two five-pound water bottles that caused him to injure his back.)

The video evidence presented in court sealed the deal. The 40-year-old Californian who caused $57,000 in losses admitted that he misrepresented his physical condition to the doctor who was evaluating him for workers’ compensation eligibility.

After pleading guilty to workers’ compensation fraud, the judge settled on a sentence of three years’ probation and 180 days in custody to be served on work furlough. (Apparently the judge had a heart when she heard that he was the primary caregiver for his children and custody would be a hardship for them. Boy did he get lucky with that sentence, considering he had a previous conviction for domestic violence.) Restitution is yet to be determined.

Further research shows that insurance fraud in the United States costs between $80 and $90 billion per year, and is the second largest economic crime in America only after tax evasion. Just in California alone, insurance fraud equals about $15 billion per year. Congratulations to the San Diego Sherriff’s Department for doing the heavy lifting in this case and for flexing their muscles to prevent this fraudster from bulking up on workers’ compensation benefits he didn’t deserve.

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, Former deputy sheriff given probation, work furlough in insurance fraud case,” published in the San Diego Tribune on April 10, 2018.

Sheriff’s investigators secretly recorded the deputy lifting weights at the gym.

Dumbbells weighing 80 pounds in each hand. Leg presses of 600 pounds. “Dead lifts” of 315 pounds from floor to hips.

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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.