Smile, You’ve Just Been Busted for Fraud

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Architect is posing on construction site. She is happy. Two coworkers are in the back.

It’s amusing to see the mug shots of people who have been caught in a crime. They are all smiles, like they are proud of their illegal deeds. (They tend to look a little different after their sentence is handed down though.) A former Ventura County, California truck driver was most likely not smiling when footage documenting the lack of a claimed injury was revealed. It was just the proof that was needed to convict the liar of workers’ compensation fraud.

The truck driver in question was employed by an agricultural company in Santa Paula when he injured his right shoulder. After being placed on temporary total disability, he had shoulder surgery around four months after the on-the-job injury occurred. Following surgery, he did not work and continued to collect workers’ compensation benefits at a rate of two-thirds of his salary, tax-free for approximately the next two years. (That’s a pretty good benefit.)

Then, someone called in a tip to the former truck driver’s employer. Apparently, the man was not as injured as his claim suggested. It was reported that he was seen being physically active and working on cars. The trucker’s employer contacted their workers’ compensation insurance administrator and a private investigator was hired to conduct surveillance of the man who claimed he could not work at all.

Seven-and-a-half hours of video showed that the man was doing some heavy lifting around his cars located in his home’s garage. For someone who had shoulder surgery, you wouldn’t expect him to be able to remove a radiator from the engine compartment of his car, replace batteries, wheels and tires or pick up a 36-pound floor jack and carry it into his garage. (Unless he was using his good shoulder to do all that.)

Following the surveillance, which the former trucker was unaware of, he claimed that he was unable to do anything at home and that the heaviest thing he could carry is a gallon of milk. He also claimed he could not even change the spark plugs on his vehicle. (Who would not want to have been a fly on the wall when that surveillance video was revealed? Busted!)

The 47-year-old former California truck driver pleaded guilty to workers’ compensation fraud. While he originally faced up to five years in jail, he received three years of probation instead. He must pay back $27,955 in restitution and serve 180 days in Ventura County jail as part of his probation sentence. (It’s a given that this guy is no longer smiling like a Cheshire cat for duping his employer and their workers’ compensation insurance company.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article, “California Truck Driver Gets Jail Time After Busted In Workers’ Comp Scam,” published by Transportation Nation Network on July 24, 2019.

Ventura County, California – A California truck driver who pleaded guilty for his role in a scam to illegally obtain workers’ compensation benefits received his sentence on July 19.

In June, Transportation Nation Network (TNN) reported Jaime Serna, 47, formerly of Fillmore, pleaded guilty to making a false statement of a material fact for the purpose of obtaining workers’ compensation benefits and faced up to 5 years in jail.

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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.