Milking the System

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Dairy farming was previously done on a small scale by farmers who rose before the sun to trudge to the barn where they milked their cows by hand. The milking process, which happens several times a day, became much easier once the milking machine was invented in the late 1800’s. Today, milking cows has become a huge industry that requires many workers to manage all of the milking machines. Today’s fraudster, who hails from Modesto, California, was adept at milking cows and also the workers’ compensation system. Read on to find out how he committed workers’ compensation fraud multiple times.

 Today’s fraudster, who worked as a milker at a large Fresno, California creamery facility, hurt his back and filed a workers’ compensation claim under his alleged name. At the time he filed the claim, he denied that he had any previous injuries to his back. (This was udder-ly preposterous, because that was a flat out lie.)

After a qualified medical examiner evaluated the man’s physical condition, it was discovered that he had also used the same first and last name, but added a middle name and a different Social Security number (SSN) on two additional workers’ compensation claims. (I guess he thought that by throwing in a middle name and attaching a different SSN, he could avoid detection.)

One of the workers’ compensation claims was submitted while he was working as a roofer and the other one was submitted while employed as a milker. (Both claims stated that he had injured his back.) The Californian received a whole person impairment value (WPI) of 13% from the first claim and a $20,000 settlement. The second claim gave him a 55% WPI and a $65,000 settlement. (Holy cow – that’s $85,000! He was going for the cream when he tried to milk the system with his third claim.)

 But, the third time the 51-year-old milker tried to submit a fraudulent workers’ compensation claim, his prospects for collecting more benefits went sour. He pleaded no contest to false impersonation and was sentenced to three years of probation for committing workers’ compensation fraud. He must also serve 160 hours of community service and pay restitution of $3,500 to the creamery, where he is no longer employed.

The milker figured that getting “injured” on-the-job would buy him some time off and a free income. (It’s kind of like the adage, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?”) He erroneously figured that he could scam California’s workers’ compensation insurance fund by falsely claiming another injury, then bump up his WPI another notch and collect more benefits without having to work. Well, he didn’t count on knocking the pail over. (I guess there’s no sense in crying over spilt milk now.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article, “Former Foster Farms worker pleads in workers comp case,” published on the Modesto Bee on March 24, 2018.

A former Foster Farms worker has pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge in Stanislaus County Superior Court to resolve a case involving allegations of workers compensation fraud.

Carlos Maldonado Romero, 51, pleaded no contest in November to false impersonation and was sentenced to three years’ summary probation, 160 hours of community service and ordered to pay $3,500 in restitution to Foster Farms, according to a news release issued this week by Probe Information Services, which investigates workers compensation cases for Foster Farms.

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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.