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Unexpected 'spotter' leaves weightlifter facing work comp fraud charges

There is an unfortunate perception among some employees that certain types of fraudulent conduct can be neatly classified as a "victimless crime." For example, some employees will either fake or exaggerate the extent of their injuries in order to collect work comp benefits. Such conduct is far from a victimless crime, however, as it can cost employers, insurers and taxpayers thousands of dollars.

Consider a recent case out of the state of Ohio, where 39-year-old Jason D. of Celina started collecting work comp benefits -- i.e., non-working wage loss -- after claiming to have suffered a severe injury that left him unable to find employment.

Specifically, Jason D. had a ten-pound lifting restriction put in place after convincing his treating physician of the debilitating nature of his injury and this restriction, he claimed, made it difficult for him to secure a job.

However, at some point officials with the Ohio's Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) received an anonymous tip that Jason D. was not exactly honoring this ten-pound lifting restriction.

Here, the tipster indicated that Jason D. was regularly engaging in heavy weight lifting at an area YMCA.

The BWC subsequently authorized personnel in its Special Investigation Division (SID) to perform an undercover investigation.

Shortly thereafter, the investigators began observing Jason D. at the YMCA in question and secured videotape footage of him regularly bench pressing over 500 pounds.

He was subsequently charged with one count of work comp fraud and pleaded guilty in November. The judge sentenced him to 9 months in jail -- suspended for 3 years of community control -- and ordered him to pay $31,736.98 in restitution.

"Many do have a difficult time finding employment when an injury has left them with certain physical restrictions," said BWC Administrator Steve Buehrer. "However, this video makes it very clear that [Jason D.] was not being truthful about his restrictions, and he has now been ordered to repay the funds that he received deceptively."

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 Times Bulletin, "Video of Celina man proves workers' compensation fraud," Lindsay McCoy, Jan. 12, 2013

The Lima News, "Celina man sentence for workers' comp fraud," Heather Rutz, Jan. 11, 2013

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