Arrests for January 2004
These arrests were made possible through the cooperation of the Frauds Bureau, law enforcement, the insurance industry and the public.
To report suspected incidents of insurance fraud, call 1-888-FRAUDNY
Beatrice Kaufman pled guilty on 1/28/04 to cheating an insurance company, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and two charities by falsely claiming that her home and business were damaged in the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center. At sentencing on March 25, she is expected to get 52 weekends in jail. In addition, her plea bargain required her to admit that she received the money through false pretenses, to make restitution to Chubb Insurance Company from which she received more than $58,700, and to the charities. She received $8,000 each from FEMA and the American Red Cross and $10,000 from Safe Horizon. She was also fined $169,620. An investigation by the Frauds Bureau, FEMA, the Manhattan DA's Office and Chubb led to her arrest in November 2002.
- Michael Cammarota, a former life insurance agent and sublicensee of a financial services agency, pled guilty on 1/28/04 to five counts of 2nd degree grand larceny and one charge of 1st degree scheme to defraud. As part of the scheme in operation since 1997, Cammarota convinced his clients, many of them senior citizens, to invest in annuities and other investment products. However, Cammarota used the money to support his extravagant lifestyle. The scheme worked for awhile because Cammarota would make occasional interest payments to his early clients from the money entrusted to him by his new investors. His arrest in May 2003 was the result of an investigation by the Frauds Bureau, the Suffolk County DA's Economic Crimes Bureau and the Nassau County DA's Consumer Frauds Bureau. The Suffolk County DA's Office is moving to seize his home in Cold Spring Harbor and has begun forfeiture proceedings on any foreign or unknown accounts or assets he may have.
- An upstate dentist, Tejbir Oberoi, pled guilty in federal district court on 1/15/04 to two felonies: mail fraud and knowingly offering a false statement in connection with a health care matter. Oberoi admitted that he "knowingly and willfully" submitted "false, fictitious and fraudulent" insurance forms in 1995 and 1996. He was indicted in October 1999 on 157 counts of health care fraud in which he was accused of billing for services never provided and in some cases on patients he had never met. By accepting a plea deal, Oberoi faces a maximum term of ten years in prison, fines of $500,000 and an additional term of supervised release. Oberoi also agreed to pay restitution of up to $252,000. Prosecutors said they would seek revocation of his license to practice dentistry. Sentencing is scheduled for May 3.
- LICENSE SUSPENDED
Arrested on 1/27/04
Charged with issuing fraudulent certificates of insurance, insurance fraud, petit larceny and falsifying business records
An investigation by the Frauds Bureau, the State Insurance Fund, the Workers' Compensation Board's Fraud Inspector General's Office and the Monroe County DA's Office led to the arrest of a Brockport insurance agent on 50 counts of insurance fraud. His license has been suspended pending a hearing. The defendant was charged with issuing fraudulent certificates of workers' compensation insurance to self-employed persons as evidence of coverage for potential employers. As a result, businesses employing these individuals were improperly charged workers' compensation rates based on this fraudulent information. In other cases, he allegedly took workers' compensation premiums from prospective insureds but never placed the coverage. He was arrested in September 2003 on similar charges.
- SWEEP NETS 25
Arrested on 11/03-1/04
Charged with insurance fraud and related offenses
The Superintendent of Insurance and the Attorney General on 1/26/04 announced a sweep that began in November 2003 and netted 25 arrests across 11 upstate counties. An investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the AG's Auto Insurance Fraud Unit uncovered brazen schemes to defraud insurers including filing false claims, double billing and staged accidents.
Arrested on 1/23/04
Charged with insurance fraud in the 3rd degree
The suspect in this case was accused of submitting a fraudulent claim for damage to refrigeration equipment that he stated was a result of the blackout that occurred on 8/19/03. The Frauds Bureau and the Suffolk County DA's Office joined forces in this investigation.
- CLAIMED TWICE
Arrested on 1/22/04
Charged with grand larceny in the 4th degree
On 6/21/03, this defendant was involved in an auto accident. She filed a claim with her insurer, State Farm, and received $1,630 for the loss. However, an investigation by the Frauds Bureau, State Farm, the Niagara Falls Police Department and the Niagara County DA's Office uncovered evidence that the defendant also submitted a claim to the insurer of the other car involved in the accident, Kemper, and received a settlement of $3,244. State Farm asked her to return the check but she refused to cooperate.
- WORKERS' COMP FRAUD
Arrested on 1/22/04
Charged with violation of the Workers Compensation Law
An investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the Suffolk County DA's Office revealed that the defendant in this case was gainfully employed since December 1998 while collecting $35,784 from the State Insurance Fund to which he was not entitled.
- NOT COVERED
Arrested on 1/20/04
Charged with criminal possession of a forged instrument in the 2nd degree and violation of the Workers' Compensation Law
This suspect allegedly produced a fraudulent certificate of workers' compensation insurance on two occasions in 2001 and 2002 in order to obtain work as a subcontractor when, in fact, no coverage existed. His arrest was brought about as a result of an investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the State Police.
- "OPERATION SIDESWIPE"
Arrested on 1/14/04
Charged with insurance fraud, grand larceny, falsifying business records, tampering with public records, falsely reporting an incident and conspiracy
A two-year undercover investigation, dubbed "Operation Sideswipe" and conducted jointly by the Frauds Bureau, the NYPD's Auto Crime Division and the Queens DA's Rackets and Organized Crime Bureau led to indictments charging 33 individuals with participating in a no-fault fraud ring that defrauded insurers out of more than $236,000. Twenty defendants were arrested and 13 more are being sought. Those arrested included lawyers, doctors and other state-licensed medical professionals, as well as "runners" and "jump-ins." They were accused of staging accidents, submitting false property-damage, medical and bodily-injury claims, providing baseless treatments and ordering costly and unwarranted medical tests.
- BOGUS FINANCING
Arrested on 1/14/04
Charged with grand larceny
A financial consultant from Rome, NY, was arrested and charged with cheating clients of more than $342,000. The defendant allegedly took investment money from clients for his personal use and produced fraudulent financial statements claiming that the funds were deposited into investment accounts. His arrest was the result of an investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the Rome Police Department. He was also arrested in August 2003 for stealing $76,400 from another client.
- LIKE MOTHER, LIKE SON
Arrested on 1/7/04
Charged with insurance fraud in the 3rd degree and grand larceny in the 3rd degree
Following a fire in an apartment in the building in which the defendant lived, he and his mother filed a claim with Royal Sun Alliance Insurance Company stating that the fire had caused $6,980 worth of damage to property located in his apartment. An investigation conducted by the Frauds Bureau and the Plattsburgh Police Department uncovered evidence that the only property belonging to the son that was damaged in the fire was a leather jacket that had been in the hallway at the time. Mother and son were arrested and arraigned in Clinton County Court.
- THIRD PARTY WANTED
Arrested on 1/7/04
Charged with insurance fraud in the 2 nd degree, arson in the 3rd degree and attempted grand larceny in the 2nwith arson in the 3rd degree, insurance fraud in the 3rd degree, attempted grand larceny in the 3rd degree and conspiracy in the 4th degreed degree
On 9/21/03, an upstate woman drove her 2003 Buick to a tavern in Depew, NY, and a short time later discovered her car "missing." She reported it stolen to the Depew Police Department and her insurer, Progressive Insurance Company. It was later recovered in Hamburg, NY, destroyed by fire. However, an investigation by the Frauds Bureau, the Depew Police Department and Progressive revealed that the defendant's husband had instructed her to leave the keys in the car at the tavern. When questioned, she admitted that her husband had made arrangements with a friend to have the car stolen and burned. The husband subsequently confessed that he had made the arrangements. Damage to the car was placed at $14,537. This investigation is ongoing as the police seek the person who actually set fire to the car.
- THAT'S STEALING
Arrested on 1/6/04
Charged with forgery in 2nd degree
An investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the Erie County DA's Office led to the arrest of a Buffalo, NY, laborer. He surrendered to the Buffalo Police Department on 1/6/04 on an outstanding warrant. The charges alleged that in 1998 and 1999 he took two loans out on his former wife's life insurance policy. The loans, for $343.48 and $308.76, were taken without his former wife's knowledge or consent. He allegedly forged her signature and cashed the checks.
- MORE THAN MECHANICAL PROBLEMS
Arrested on 1/6/04
Charged with insurance fraud in the 3rd degree, attempted grand larceny in the 3rd degree and falsely reporting an incident in the 3rd degree
On 11/22/03, the defendant in this case reported to the Cheektowaga Police Department and State Farm that his 1992 Chrysler valued at $3,075 was stolen from his home. However, an investigation by the Frauds Bureau, the Cheektowaga PD and State Farm revealed that a Buffalo Police Officer had observed the defendant with the car both before and after the reported theft. He subsequently admitted to the police that he was having mechanical problems and falsely reported it stolen in an attempt to collect an insurance settlement.
Ann Michelle Reyes, a former insurance agency employee, pled guilty on September 18, 2003 to insurance fraud in the 4th degree and was sentenced on December 17 to five years probation. An investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the Westchester County DA's Office revealed that she confiscated an existing appraisal for a diamond ring that was the property of a client of her employer. She then took out a policy with Chubb Insurance Company, insuring the ring based on the appraisal and filed a lost property claim for $42,000.
- CALL HOUSEKEEPING
Arrested on 12/30/03
Charged with workers' compensation fraud
A housekeeper from Utica, NY, claimed she was unable to work following an on-the-job back injury she sustained in June 1989. At a Workers' Compensation Board hearing in August 1999, she was classified as Permanent Partial Disabled and as a result, the State Insurance Fund was directed to pay her $55 a week. She was also allowed to earn an additional $61.85 a week without affecting her award. On May 14, 2002, after a review of her case, she was interviewed by investigators from the State Insurance Fund to determine her employment status. During the interview, she completed a questionnaire stating that she had not worked at any job since the time of her injury. An investigation was conducted by the Frauds Bureau, the State Insurance Fund and the Workers' Compensation Inspector General's Office and using surveillance they determined that the suspect had been employed at a local motel since March 2000. Further investigation revealed that she was also employed at a local supermarket. A review of the payroll records from both employers showed that the suspect collected more than $10,500 in workers' compensation benefits to which she was not entitled.
PERMANENT APPEARS TO BE TEMPORARY
Arrested on 12/26/03
Charged with offering a false instrument for filing
Following a work-related back injury on 1/2/90 while working as a farm laborer, the suspect in this case claimed to be unable to work and filed for worker's compensation benefits. In May 1997, the Workers' Compensation Board classified the suspect as Permanent Disabled and directed the State Insurance Fund to pay him $110 a week but allowing him to earn an additional $55 a week without affecting his benefits. However, during a joint investigation by the Frauds Bureau, the State Insurance Fund, the Workers' Compensation Inspector General's Office and the State Police, it was learned that the suspect had been employed since 1998 at a farm in Cazenovia, NY, earning $252 a week plus housing and utilities, more than $6,800 above the amount allowed by his workers' compensation award. At an interview on 11/3/03, the suspect admitted to knowingly collecting benefits to which he was not entitled.
A Brooklyn salesman, David Deutsch, was sentenced on 10/15/03 to three months incarceration and six months home confinement after pleading guilty to wire fraud on 2/3/03. Deutsch was arrested in December 2001 for submitting a fraudulent claim to CNA Insurance Company alleging that a fire occurred at his place of business, and that a service company put the cost of repairs at $175,249. However, an investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service revealed that a service company employee's original repair estimate totaled just $10,320. However, Deutsch asked for another estimate that would include upgrades and routine maintenance unrelated to the fire. In addition, Deutsch submitted invoices to his insurer stating that a second repair company had performed repairs totaling $144,900 on three compressors and an incinerator that allegedly had also sustained fire damage. After inspection of this equipment, two firms determined that no such repairs had been performed.