Fraud Awareness Week: Success in Ohio

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When the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) created its Special Investigations Department (SID) in 1993, investigative professionals in the new department knew they would need to do more than detect, identify and investigate suspected workers’ compensation fraud. To fully meet the department’s mandate and mission, SID professionals would need to also deter fraud.

We felt one of the most effective ways to deter fraud might be to raise public awareness of what we do by reaching out to the media about our latest cases. In the years since, SID has collaborated with BWC’s Communications Department to issue news releases on many of the nearly 3,000 subjects convicted and sentenced as a result of our work.

To reach an even wider audience, we created our first social media accounts in 2011 and launched our Fraud Awareness Series via ohiobwcfraud and twitter.com/ohiobwcfraud. Through our YouTube channel, we added videos showing undercover surveillance footage of subjects caught in act of committing their crimes.

The success of our Fraud Awareness Series can be measured by its reach beyond our initial audience. That is why we take note (ok, we admit we are thrilled) whenever one of our prosecution news releases is shared or re-Tweeted by a follower. Since 2014, we have seen this occur 39 times from just one follower — Larry Benson. Larry has used our news releases as the basis for 39 of his Fraud of the Day blogs published by LexisNexis Risk Solutions. Larry sees news releases for countless other successful fraud investigations by government agencies within hundreds of jurisdictions (local, state, and federal), so we are always delighted when he takes note of ours. We also appreciate his Fraud of the Day website permits users to select their favorite examples by fraud type and state. For example, here is a filtered link to the Fraud of the Day articles for Ohio, including the 39 (and counting) articles pertaining to BWC.

Conveniently, E-mail subscribers to Fraud of the Day blogs may “get their fraud fix” by “waking up five days a week to the most current fraud article delivered straight to their inbox.”

But no matter how you access the Fraud of the Day blogs, you will note Larry’s clever use of headlines and tags referencing the subject’s type of fraud. A few of our favorites include:

Of course, as humorous as these titles may be, we know that no fraud is a matter for laughter. We certainly take all crime seriously. That is why we have dedicated our careers to detecting, identifying, investigating, prosecuting, and deterring fraud. Like Larry, we, too, are willing to deploy clever or funny headlines in news releases, but that’s only to increase the likelihood that the media and general public will take note and read and heed the releases as the cautionary tales they are.

Widening our reach, getting our word out, deters fraud. In the spirit of International Fraud Awareness Week, we invite all of you to join us in combating crime by continuing to follow this blog and Larry’s Fraud of the Day series this week and beyond.

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Jeff Baker, State of Ohio BWC
Jeff Baker has 40 years of successful management and consulting experience across public, non-for-profit, and private sectors. Since 1994, Mr. Baker has been a management analyst supervisor and a program administrator with the State of Ohio, Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), Special Investigations Department (SID). About BWC: Established in 1912, the agency is the exclusive provider of workers’ compensation insurance in Ohio and serves 242,000 public and private employers. With 1,800 employees and assets of approximately $27 billion, BWC is the largest state-run insurance system in the United States. Our mission is to protect Ohio's workers and employers through the prevention, care and management of workplace injuries and illnesses at fair rates. Learn more at www.bwc.ohio.gov. About BWC SID: Created by statute in 1993, the department recently celebrated its 26th year of protecting the State Insurance Fund by proactively detecting, investigating, and deterring fraud. This fund compensates Ohio’s injured workers. What began with a staff of six to 10 people in just three offices across the state is today a force of 119 agents, supervisors, and support personnel in 13 offices statewide. Ohio law designates SID a criminal justice agency. SID protects the fund by aggressively pursuing cases of claimant, medical provider, and employer fraud. As a result of its investigations, the department declare overpayments, identify actuarial savings, disallow claims, and pursue prosecutions and recovery of dollars. These actions directly impact BWC’s ability to reduce premium costs. Since its inception, the department has identified more than $1.9 billion in savings to the fund, completed more than 69,000 investigations, referred 5,420 subjects for prosecution, and secured 2,941 criminal convictions. About Baker: Now the longest-tenured member of the department’s dedicated and effective management team, Mr. Baker’s broad-ranging responsibilities have included: since 1995, management of biennial and annual budgets; since its initiation in 1996, administration of the SID college relations program; since 2002, creation of the department’s annual report; and, since 2011, a champion of the agency’s social media program, including authorship of content for the SID Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ohiobwcfraud) and BWC Tweeter account (twitter.com/ohiobwc). Prior to BWC SID: In 1980, Mr. Baker started his career as a generalist in human resources management with Fortune 100 companies. In preparation for transitioning from the private, to the public, sector, he earned a Master of Arts in public policy and management from The Ohio State University in 1993. There, as a graduate fellow, he specialized in organizational behavior, strategic planning, and strategic leadership.