Dental hygienists have several occupational risks they must consider when going to work each day. There’s the possibility of contracting infections, exposure to radiation and anesthetic gases and even repetitive motion injuries. (Not to mention being bitten by unhappy patients.) A Lynwood, Washington woman claimed an injury while working on-the-job and filed for workers’ compensation. Unfortunately, she lied about her injury and continued to work part-time for other dentists while receiving workers’ compensation benefits. (That’s called workers’ compensation fraud.)
Back in March of 2013, today’s fraudster claimed she injured her thumbs and hands while performing dental hygienist duties for several dentists in two Washington counties. When she applied for workers’ compensation benefits, she signed a Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) form verifying she was not employed. (At the time, she was actually working part time and repeatedly providing false information stating she was not.)
L&I, which is the state workers’ compensation system, provided workers’ compensation benefits that included medical and wage payments based on assessments made and certified by her physicians. An investigation was opened after completing a routine comparison of L&I and state employment Security Department records where it was revealed that the dental hygienist was allegedly double-dipping.
While working for other dentists, the dental hygienist collected workers’ compensation benefits for 11 months, racking up $57,000 in wage-replacement checks. (Approximately $19,000 was used for medical benefits, while $6,000 paid for vocational counseling.)
The 55-year-old woman from Lynnwood, Washington pleaded guilty to workers’ compensation fraud. She received a deferred sentence, which means that the misdemeanor charge will be dropped after two years if she does not make false statements to the agency or break the law and complies with other requirements. (Such as serving 180 hours of community service.)
Today’s fraudulent dental hygienist learned an important lesson – when fraud gnaws away at benefits set aside for injured workers, the government bites back. Fortunately, Washington’s L&I had some checks in place to catch perpetrators, such as this woman from Lynwood. Just like dental hygienists are good at instructing patients about cavity prevention, the Washington L&I program has now lectured today’s fraudster on fraud prevention. Anyone else considering the same crim, should think twice before committing workers’ compensation fraud.
Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on a Washington State Department of Labor & Industries news release entitled, “Washington Dental Hygienist Pleads Guilty in Workers’ Comp Case,” posted on lni.wa.gov on April 2, 2018.
Seattle – A Lynnwood woman has been sentenced to community service after admitting she lied when she claimed she wasn’t working while receiving workers’ comp benefits.
Shari Lee Kristiansen, 55, pleaded guilty on Thursday to making a false or misleading statement to the state Department of Labor & Industries (L&I). The agency administers the state workers’ compensation system, which helps workers who are injured on the job heal and return to work.