Rappelling vs. Repelling

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10269592 - injured male hand with upper part of body. hand is bandaged with red plaster focus set on thumb

Rappelling, which is a controlled way to descend from a mountain or cliff using ropes, anchors and other rope climbing equipment is a popular, but dangerous sport. This outdoor hobby requires a great deal of finesse and strength and should not be an activity that someone receiving workers’ compensation benefits should try. (But, that’s exactly what today’s fraudster did.) The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) worker from New Jersey committed workers’ compensation fraud while posting pictures of himself rappelling and zip-lining, while on vacation.

The man at the center of today’s case injured his right wrist after falling on ice while delivering mail. Seven months after his injury, he had arthroscopic surgery to repair torn cartilage in his wrist. He subsequently received medical assessments from the USPS on three separate occasions that cleared him to return to work, performing light duty. (The mailman disagreed with the declarations and turned down several offers from the USPS for less physically demanding positions. Then he provided documents from his doctor that supported his claim.)

The former postal worker received workers’ compensation benefits for almost two years. Seven years after the initial injury, he posted photos of himself on Facebook zip-lining and rappelling while on vacation, despite being unable to work due to his wrist injury. (Social media often reveals many fools.)

It gets better folks. A year later, investigators observed him using a chain saw, hand saw, throwing large logs and participating in other physically demanding activities that someone with a wrist injury would not be able to do. He did this all while claiming he was physically unfit to return to work, even on light duty. (Well, I guess some of those postal packages can get pretty heavy.)

Prosecutors presented a waiver that the former postal worker had signed two days prior to participating in the zip-lining and rappelling activities. By signing the waiver, he confirmed he accepted the risks of the dangerous activities, certifying that he was of average mobility and strength and in reasonably good health. (Perhaps he didn’t read before signing on the dotted line. Who has the time for that anyway?)

The 59-year-old man from Lower Township, New Jersey is charged with stealing more than $75,000 in federal workers’ compensation benefits. Charges include second-degree theft by deception and third-degree insurance fraud. (It’s important to keep in mind that this man is innocent until proven guilty, however, the evidence appears to be solid.)

If convicted of workers’ compensation fraud, this New Jersey man faces five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000 for the second-degree charge. The third-degree charge carries a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

This almost 60-year-old probably realizes that instead of rappelling, he should have been repelling fraud. As he stands before the judge for sentencing, I imagine it will feel like being on a cliff, preparing to make a dangerous descent without any appropriate mountain climbing equipment.

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, Feds charge disabled mailman who posted zip-lining photos with fraud,” posted on NJ.com on September 19, 2017.

TRENTON — A U.S. Postal Service worker was charged with stealing more than $75,000 in federal workers’ compensation benefits after he posted vacation photos on Facebook showing him zip-lining and rock rappelling despite being out of work for a wrist injury, authorities said.

Robert McGeehan, 59, of Lower Township, was charged Monday with second-degree theft by deception and third-degree insurance fraud in an indictment handed up by a grand jury in Trenton, Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino and the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor said in a news release.

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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.