A Rat by Any Other Name


It’s not every day that you hear of a fraudster who is caught red-handed, dressed as a rodent. According to a recent Los Angeles Times report, one California man is paying a hefty price for dressing up like a hamster and dancing in a car commercial (yeah, we’ve all bopped to that beat), while simultaneously collecting workers’ compensation benefits.

It all began when the 29-year-old dancer incurred injuries at a theater company, after a piece of the building’s ceiling detached and hit him. A subsequent doctor’s visit determined that he had an irritated eye, a sprain and a strain, which allowed him to file claim for temporary disability benefits from the California Employment Development Department. (How much cash could a dancer steal if a hamster could stash cash?) The agency continued to extend these claims, as the dancer declared that he remained unemployed and did not have any source of income. In reality, he had already returned to the stage and screen, long before the benefits ended.

Despite the fact that he had previously worked as a backup dancer for big-name celebrities, the man collected a total of $51,000 in workers’ compensation benefits. But everything came crashing down on that fateful hamster day, in which he was caught being paid to dance in an automobile commercial. He soon landed before a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge and pleaded no contest to one count of insurance fraud and one count of making false statements regarding aid. The judge sentenced him to three months of electronic monitoring (not an ideal accessory for a dancer or a rodent), to perform 400 hours of community service and to pay upwards of $24,000 in restitution.

Temporary workers’ compensation funds are meant to provide emergency assistance to employees whose on-the-job injuries prevent them from earning an income. Shame on this hamster dancer for stealing from some of America’s most vulnerable citizens, and bravo to the state of California for holding him accountable for his crimes.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Kia dancing hamster pleads no contest in disability fraud case,” written by Sarah Parvini and published by the Los Angeles Times on January 22, 2016.

While he was claiming disability insurance, Leroy Barnes was busy busting a move — as a hip, dancing hamster.

On Friday, authorities announced that the dancing-rodent impersonator had pleaded no contest to one count each of insurance fraud and false statements regarding aid.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Norm Shapiro sentenced Barnes to 90 days of electronic monitoring. He also was ordered to perform 400 hours of community service and pay more than $24,000 in restitution.

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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.