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California woman faces 10 counts of work comp fraud for feigning ankle injury

If employees suffer serious work injuries, they can rely on their employer's workers' compensation insurer for the financial assistance they will need during their recovery. Unfortunately, employee fraud is still a common occurrence, meaning some employees will exaggerate or even fabricate injuries in order to collect work comp benefits.

To illustrate, consider a workers' compensation fraud case right here in California that made headlines for the employee's rather brazen -- and bawdy -- conduct.

According to reports, 28-year-old Modupe M. of Hayward, was employed as a custodian for the Sequoia High School District. In February 2009, she suffered what she said was a severe ankle injury that prevented her from working or walking without pain.

For several months after the injury, she attended multiple doctor appointments at two separate offices, using crutches to get around and ultimately to secure work comp benefits.

However, her treating physicians soon began to question whether she was really injured, and the insurance fraud unit of the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office was contacted.

Here, insurance fraud investigators began secretly recording Modupe M. via hidden camera as she left her scheduled doctor appointments and observed the following:

  • In one instance, she was recorded walking into the doctor's office using crutches and then leaving the doctor's office without using them
  • In another instance, she was recorded throwing her crutches into the back seat of her car after leaving the doctor's office, driving to a gas station where she put on high heels and driving to a nearby park. Once here, she ran to her boyfriend and the two later engaged in what can only be described as a "romantic encounter"

"The doctors, after they viewed the video, said there's not a chance she could be doing these sorts of things with an injured ankle," said San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

Modupe M was arrested and charged with 10 counts of work comp fraud in August 2009. Authorities are alleging that she fraudulently collected nearly $44,000 in work comp benefits.

A few weeks ago, she re-entered a not-guilty plea and her trial was scheduled for the end of October. She is currently free on bond and faces several years in prison if convicted.

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. Names have been withheld to protect the identity of the parties.

Sources:

The San Francisco Chronicle, "Romantic tryst exposes allegedly fake injury, " Ellen Huet, July 5, 2012

The San Jose Mercury News, "Former Sequoia Union school custodian accused of faking workplace injury," Bonnie Eslinger, July 6, 2012

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