Beauty Contestant Charged with Workers' Compensation Fraud

September 1, 2014

A participant in the 2014 Miss Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix beauty contest was arrested for workers' compensation fraud. The arrest followed the surfacing of video evidence on social media, which showed her participation in the event. The woman had been collecting workers' compensation money and had been lying about the severity of her injury. It is illegal to do this, and fraud puts a strain on other state residents who have to foot the bill. Catching illegal activity is not always this easy, because not all scam artists are bold enough to put themselves in such a public spotlight while they are scamming the system.

The woman who was caught had been working at a supermarket chain in Southern California. In March of 2014, she reported a fractured left toe to her employer and had claimed she could not put any weight on the left foot during the ensuing doctor visits. She also stated that she was unable to wear shoes for very long or move the foot in any direction. The woman's doctor gave her crutches, an orthopedic shoe and had ordered that she avoid working until it healed. She was supposed to keep the foot elevated when possible, but the woman still collected workers' compensation money while she was participating in not only one but at least two beauty contests. The contestants were required to wear high heels, and it was noted in the video evidence that the supposedly injured woman was walking perfectly well in high heels.

If the woman is convicted of the charges against her, she could face one year in jail, a restitution fine of $24,000 and three years of probation. Workers' compensation fraud is a serious issue that only continues to worsen. Law enforcement agencies are cracking down on offenders, because the cost of paying for false claims is passed on to employers in the form of higher premiums. Employers must pass these costs on to consumers or their employees. When claimants commit fraud, it may come in several forms. They may exaggerate their symptoms, which are often malingering. They may instead embellish the severity of an injury and earn a side income while they are supposed to be resting, or they may just fake an injury entirely to collect income they are not entitled to.

Workers' compensation fraud may also be committed by employers and health care providers. Employers may lie about the classification of employees they have, take money for premiums from workers' paychecks or skip coverage altogether. When health care providers commit this form of fraud, they often lie about services performed, conduct the same service multiple times or recommend unnecessary services to max out benefits. When fraud is suspected or confirmed, it should be reported immediately. To learn more about this issue, discuss concerns with an agent.

Click here to return to Amity Insurance E-Newsletter September 1, 2014.