Fraud Chain


Much like the food chain describes relationships between organisms and different levels of prey, fraud also needs victims in order for crime to perpetuate. The California Statewide Law Enforcement Association reports that a farm labor contractor participated in a workers’ compensation fraud scheme that impacted not only his business, his employees and the insurance industry, but also preyed upon the local economy, other business owners and taxpayers.

The article reports that a farm labor contractor tried to save a few bucks by defrauding two insurance companies. The man, who operated several businesses, underreported his employee payroll and misrepresented claim information in order to reduce his workers’ compensation insurance premium. (He probably thought he could drop a few zeroes and no one would ever notice.)

Needless to say, he didn’t get past an audit. The fraudster eventually struck a plea deal and was sentenced to a six-year prison term. He was also ordered to pay nearly $4.2 million in restitution.

Times are tough for people looking for jobs, employees trying to keep their jobs and business owners, who have the ability to generate income that ultimately boosts the local economy. In the ”Circle of Life” – and in fraud – there is always someone or something that becomes prey for another. In this case, it is other business owners who pay for fraudulent crimes like this one, whether through higher premiums, lower profits or diminished jobs. (And don’t forget the consumers at the bottom of the fraud chain, who have to pay higher prices.) Fortunately, in this case, the contractor will be getting what he deserves. (What comes around goes around, right?)

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Workers’ Comp Fraud – Fresno Business Owner Sentenced to Prison,” published by the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association on December 6, 2013.

FRESNO – Richard Lopez Escamilla Jr. 47, was sentenced in Kings County Superior Court on December 4, 2013 to six years in prison for one felony count of insurance fraud. He was also ordered to pay restitution of nearly $4.2 million to the State Compensation Insurance Fund and SeaBright Insurance.

As part of a plea deal, Escamilla plead guilty to defrauding two insurance companies by underreporting employee payroll and unemployment insurance tax evasion.

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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.