Bargain Shopping

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eBay could be described as the world’s largest flea market with an estimated 25 million sellers and 171 million buyers. Prices range from a few dollars for a variety of things to $2.67 million for a power lunch with Warren Buffet. (The online shopping portal offers a plethora of things for those looking for a good bargain from the comfort of their own home or mobile device.) A Buffalo, New York woman got quite a bargain from the New York State Insurance Fund (NYSIF). She committed workers’ compensation fraud by collecting $48,000 she was not entitled to, while also making a sizeable income selling her wares on eBay.

The New Yorker started an internet business on eBay selling items for children and adults in 2011. In January 2012, she injured her lower back and right elbow while trying to lift a patient from the floor at a nursing home in East Aurora, New York. (Or did she?) Apparently, she was deemed worthy of receiving workers’ compensation benefits and started collecting a weekly check.

Meanwhile, the woman’s eBay business proved to be lucrative. (She raked in nearly $53,000 from the home-based business over four years.) While reviewing eligibility for benefits, the eBay aficionado reported that she made items for family members and friends, but did not sell them. (Obviously, that was an outright lie because the NYSIF discovered her trail of items online.)

 During the time that the woman received about $319 per week in workers’ compensation benefits, she neglected to report her business earnings to her insurance carrier. (That’s because her workers’ compensation benefits would have stopped if the truth had been known.) She intentionally opted to conceal her work status and income so she could pocket funds she did not deserve.

The 44-year-old fraudster stole $48,023.77 in insurance benefits, while simultaneously running a successful internet retail operation. As part of a prearranged plea negotiation, the Buffalo resident pleaded guilty to workers’ compensation fraud. She is scheduled to be sentenced.

New York State law requires employers to maintain worker’s compensation coverage for employees. It also requires workers to be truthful about their work activity while receiving benefit checks. Unfortunately, today’s fraudster bought into the idea that it was ok to defraud the system that is meant to assist honest, hard-working New Yorkers. (I’m guessing that this online flea market entrepreneur now has a case of buyer’s remorse.)

 Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, NY Woman with Internet Retail Operation Pleads Guilty to 48K in Workers’ Comp Fraud,” posted on WorkCompWire.com on March 22, 2018.

Buffalo, NY – New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott recently announced the arrest and guilty plea of a City of Buffalo woman on charges she defrauded the Workers’ Compensation system and stole over $48,000 in insurance benefits to which she was not entitled by concealing her role in running an internet retail operation.

Caroline Jankowski, 44, of Buffalo, was arrested and charged with Grand Larceny in the Third Degree and Perjury in the First Degree, felonies. At arraignment in Erie County Court, as part of a prearranged plea negotiation, Jankowski pleaded guilty to one count of Attempted Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree. Jankowski also signed an order of judgment against her in the amount of $48,023.77 for the total amount stolen.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.