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Employee fraud can be detected through video surveillance

Some employees collecting workers' compensation benefits don't realize that their movements and daily activities may be the subject of random surveillance by insurance carriers. One man who was recently arrested was either unaware of that fact or he felt that after years of collecting benefits there was no continuing risk of surveillance. Both in California and throughout the country it's a common tool of insurers to weed out cases of employee fraud by randomly observing and videotaping recipients in their daily activities.

Evidence of a disabled recipient doing hard labor is generally admissible in a workers' compensation proceeding to terminate benefits. Even more importantly, the evidence can form the foundation for criminal charges of employee fraud. The use of this investigative technique ultimately also serves as a powerful deterrence against criminal abuses by other workers.

A man was arrested recently in New York State on charges of stealing workers' compensation benefits during a period when the insurer's eyes and cameras were on his activities. He had started collecting wage loss benefits in 2004 for a total disability claimed in connection with a serious back injury sustained at work. In or about Feb. Of 2012 the insurer made a routine investigation and came up with evidence that he had been working on homes in Nassau County while collecting benefits.

He was observed allegedly using a chainsaw while on a ladder. He was purportedly seen carrying tools, equipment and ladders at multiple construction sites. He was arrested on charges of third-degree grand larceny, third-degree insurance fraud, first-degree perjury and workers' compensation fraud. During the period of video surveillance, from Feb. 2012 through April 2013, he collected $23,000 in benefits while working construction in houses in Nassau County.

The man's lawyer said that he wasn't working and he's not required to sit in a wheelchair all day in order to be disabled. In California, there are many similar cases of employee fraud. Insurers believe that the procedures are a necessary and a vitally effective tool to save substantial sums that would otherwise be wrongly paid out to undeserving claimants. If a claimant is truly disabled then the occasional routine surveillance will reveal nothing to disturb the status quo.

Source: examiner.com, DA: Freeport man stole $23K in workers' comp benefits, No author, Oct. 8, 2013

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