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Feds relying more on video surveillance in work comp fraud cases

There is no disputing that employee fraud -- in the form of falsely applying for and receiving work comp benefits -- costs private employers here in California, and across the U.S. millions of dollars each year. However, the fallout from this work comp fraud is not just limited to the private sector. In fact, federal agencies are constantly struggling with the issue and many are now resorting to time-tested methods of catching fraudulent behavior.

According to recent reports by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) -- the self-proclaimed investigative arm of Congress -- at least half a dozen federal agencies are using undercover video surveillance as a work comp fraud control.

One agency in particular that has utilized video surveillance is the U.S. Postal Service's Office of the Inspector General. In fact, the office informed congress in a recent report that its work comp fraud investigations -- which rely heavily on video surveillance -- saved the agency $65 million from April 1, 2010 to September 30, 2010, and resulted in 19 arrests and 60 personnel actions (i.e., terminations, suspensions, etc.).

Some of the instances of employee fraud caught by the U.S. Postal Service's Office of the Inspector General via video surveillance include:

  • A letter carrier in Michigan who was collecting work comp benefits was observed "bending, twisting, weightlifting and performing various activities beyond her stated disabilities."
  • Husband and wife postal workers in North Carolina who were collecting work comp benefits for injuries that prohibited them from sitting for more than 15 minutes at a time were observed driving, gambling and mowing the lawn.

While the GAO has indicated in its reports to congress that these types of comprehensive investigations "can help deter future fraud and ultimately save money," they also found that they can prove to be expensive, time-consuming and a drain on resources.

Furthermore, the "limited resources" of federal prosecutors were also found to sometimes be a roadblock to prosecuting work comp cases involving less than $100,000.

Still, it appears as if federal agencies will continue to remain on the lookout for possible work comp fraud, responding to tips and conducting video surveillance of public locations.

Stay tuned for further developments in the area of workers' compensation defense law ...

Workers compensation fraud/employee fraud is a very serious crime. If you suspect that such a crime has been perpetrated against your organization, you should strongly consider speaking with an experienced workers' comp defense attorney.

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Source:

The Washington Times, "Feds use video surveillance to catch fraud for workers' comp" Dec.

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