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Why a dancing hamster is accused of workers comp fraud

When you see commercial advertising Kia’s Rio, you may be attracted by the high-energy music, the vibrant colors, and even the car’s features. But the overwhelming draw of the commercials are the dancing hamsters, who are often shown in stylish outfits; including designer suits and sweatpants.

However, you may not realize that the hamsters are not just CGI figures, but actual human dancers enhanced by the graphics. One of the dancers, a man from Los Angeles, was recently arrested on suspicion of workers’ compensation fraud. According to a report, he allegedly collected benefits by deceiving his doctors about his employment status.

The man was originally injured in June 2010 when a piece of a ceiling fell on him during a rehearsal.  He collected more than $50,000 in disability insurance benefits between September 2010 and September 2011. While he claimed that he was not employed during that time, he reportedly starred in a Kia commercial as one of the dancing hamsters. He also is alleged to have performed in a rap group, and as a backup dancer for Madonna and Kelly Rowland, all apparently while receiving disability benefits.

The man is also accused of working and collecting paychecks under different aliases, which ultimately led investigators to suspect he was fraudulently collecting benefits.

The story is yet another example that workers’ compensation fraud is not limited to a particular industry, or to particular people. Because of this, employers are encouraged to initiate investigations when they suspect that fraudulent activities may be behind the payment of disability benefits. 

Source: “Dancing hamster arrested on insurance fraud charges,” June 5, 2014

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