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Two New Jersey Men Charged with Insurance Fraud March 25, 2010

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Shannon Daney, 34, of Pine Hill, and Nicola (aka Nick) Bellapingna, 34, of Deptford, were charged this week with conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, insurance fraud, and attempted theft by deception, all in the third degree.

The Gloucester County grand jury indictment alleges that between Nov. 2, 2006 and Feb. 26, 2007, Daney and Bellapingna conspired to falsely report to the Glassboro and Washington Township Police Departments that Daney’s 2006 Honda Civic had been stolen. The indictment further alleges that the defendants reported the purported theft to the Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and attempted to obtain approximately $13,000 from Liberty Mutual by creating the false impression that the Honda had been stolen.

The investigation by the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor revealed that earlier in the evening on Nov. 2, 2006, the Honda had been involved in an automobile accident in Washington Township and could not have been stolen from a parking lot in Glassboro later that evening.

Mercer County Man Charged With Submitting Fraudulent Disability Insurance Claims March 15, 2010

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Emeka Iheukwumere, 53, of Ewing, Mercer County, was charged Friday (March 12) with second-degree insurance fraud, third-degree theft by deception and fourth-degree falsifying records.

The Mercer County grand jury indictment alleges that between July 7, 2003, and March 30, 2005, Iheukwumere submitted fraudulent accidental disability claim forms and continuing disability claim forms. The indictment charges that Iheukwumere allegedly submitted claims containing fraudulent employee statements and attending physician statements to American Family Life Insurance Company (AFLAC) in connection with claims for disability payments. Iheukwumere allegedly claimed he was employed by the Council for Airport Opportunities, even though he was not employed by that entity and therefore was not entitled to disability benefits. The indictment also alleges that, as a result of his fraudulent actions, Iheukwumere obtained 12 insurance disability claim checks totaling $39,337.50 from AFLAC to which he was not entitled.

NJ Insurance Fraud Lawyers February 10, 2010

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New Jersey Insurance Fraud Attorney

Our attorneys have found that insurance fraud in New Jersey is an increasingly common, yet serious offense.  A large number of insurance fraud cases in New Jersey are started by insurance companies and their lawyers who investigate the case before turning it over to law enforcement authorities.  Thus, it is important to the defense of your case to call a New Jersey insurance fraud attorney at the first sign that you are suspected of insurance fraud.

Insurance Fraud Lawyers that are easy to reach

Our insurance fraud lawyers are easy to reach.  Call our lawyers at any time to discuss your case or set up an appointment.  You can meet with one of our tough, smart attorneys at any one of our ten New Jersey offices including Newark, Jersey City, Toms River, Eatontown, Red Bank, Freehold, New  Brunswick, East Brunswick, Woodbridge and Princeton.

Five indicted for auto insurance fraud September 23, 2009

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This is more common than most people think.  As a result, if your car is stolen, the insurance company may subject you to an examination under oath.  As I have indicated in prior posts, it is very important to have an attorney at an EUO so that you don’t get yourself in hot water. 

Attorney General Anne Milgram announced that five North Jersey residents were charged today in separate state grand jury indictments for falsely reporting the theft of their cars.  The charges stem from an ongoing investigation into an automobile “give up” scheme in which its leader, Jose Torres, was previously sentenced to eight years in state prison with five years of parole ineligibility.

The Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor obtained the following indictments:

State v. Jose Pujols. Pujols, of Paterson, was charged with second-degree insurance fraud, third- and fourth-degree theft by deception, third-degree tampering with public records or information and fourth-degree falsifying records. The indictment alleges that on Sept. 30, 2006, Pujols reported to the Paterson Police Department that his 2000 Honda Accord had been stolen from in front of his house in Paterson and that he had last seen it around 8:45pm on Sept. 29, 2006. An investigation determined that the vehicle had not been stolen but had allegedly been purchased as part of an undercover law enforcement operation around 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 28, 2006 in Dover.

The indictment further alleges that Pujols filed a fraudulent vehicle theft claim with Geico Insurance Company over the phone on Sept. 30, 2006. On Oct. 17, 2006, Pujols allegedly completed an affidavit, falsely claiming that his vehicle was stolen along with personal items and baseball equipment inside the car. He subsequently submitted the false affidavit to Geico. As a result of the false claim, Pujols allegedly received $8,265 for the Honda and $200 for the personal items in the car, knowing that neither the car nor the personal items had been stolen.

State v. Mark P. McCaffrey. McCaffrey, of Landing, was charged with insurance fraud, theft by deception and tampering with public records or information (all third-degree) as well as fourth-degree falsifying records. The indictment alleges that on Sept. 9, 2006, McCaffrey falsely reported to the Roxbury Police Department that his 1999 Lincoln Navigator had been stolen when, in fact, the vehicle had been sold to undercover detectives on Sept. 5, 2006. According to the indictment, McCaffrey submitted a fraudulent affidavit to Geico Insurance Company claiming that his vehicle was stolen and received $13,000 from Geico to which he was not entitled.

State v. Natividad Lopez. Lopez, of Passaic, was charged with insurance fraud, theft by deception, tampering with public records or information (all third-degree) as well as fourth-degree falsifying records. The indictment alleges that Lopez falsely reported to the Passaic Police Department, and reported in a fraudulent affidavit to the IFA Insurance Company, that her 2000 Jaguar S had been stolen on Sept. 1, 2006. In fact, the vehicle had been sold to undercover detectives on Aug. 23, 2006. As a result of the alleged fraud, IFA Insurance paid the lien holder of the Jaguar $16,400 for the car.

State v. Caseem Gresham. Gresham, of Saddle Brook, was charged with insurance fraud, theft by deception, tampering with public records or information (all third-degree), and fourth-degree falsifying records. The indictment alleges that on Oct. 30, 2006 Gresham falsely reported to the Garfield Police Department that his 2005 Honda Accord had been stolen, when in fact the vehicle had been sold to undercover detectives on Oct. 26, 2006. The indictment charges that Gresham subsequently submitted a fraudulent affidavit to First Trenton Companies/Travelers Insurance Company claiming that his vehicle had been stolen. As a result, Gresham allegedly received $11,400 from Travelers to which he was not entitled.

State v. Gladys Ramos. Ramos, of Paterson, was charged with insurance fraud, theft by deception, and tampering with public records or information (all third-degree). It is charged that on Oct. 5, 2006, Ramos fraudulently reported to the Paterson Police Department that her 2006 Chevrolet Equinox had been stolen when, in fact, the vehicle had been sold to undercover detectives on Sept. 29, 2006. The indictment further alleges that Ramos submitted a false vehicle theft claim to Allstate Insurance Company and illegally received $19,600 from Allstate.

The Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor thanked Geico Insurance Company, IFA Insurance Company, First Trenton Companies/Travelers Insurance Company and the Allstate Insurance Company for their assistance in the investigations.  In other words, the insurance company uncovered the alleged fraud and handed over all of the evidence to the State.

You need an attorney that has a plan, not just a fancy ad September 12, 2009

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Really nice client hired me this week with plenty of time for me to work out a good result.  However, this could have went bad if she stuck with her former attorney that didn’t seem to have a plan.  The funny thing is, I really like the firm she hired and was a little surprised that she was unhappy with them.

She received a letter from the State about a year ago that indicated that she was under investigation for insurance fraud.  She hired this firm because they had a big fancy ad that advertised white collar crime.  She reported that the attorney made a few calls and sent out a letter.  After that, he said the case was over and it appears that nothing else was done. 

Well the State did not agree that the case was over.  They spent the next year investigating the case and a few weeks ago, they sent out a grand jury subpoena.  Needless to say, she was very upset that this was sent to her when she was told the case was over.  I asked her if attorney did this or that and she said no, just a few calls and a letter.

I can’t repeat myself enough.  Your attorney needs a plan.  Trial prep needs to start today.  Investigations need to start today.  Of course, all of this will depend on how much the client can afford but this client had the money to really lock people into statements and review her files.  Had that been done, the attorney would  have probably found out that this case is not over by far.

Luckily for her, there is still plenty of time to resolve this.  I have hit the ground running researching the issues, reviewing all of her files, etc.

Insurance company investigation leads to four guilty pleas August 11, 2009

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Many (if not most) insurance fraud convictions in New Jersey start off with an investigation conducted by an insurance company and not the government.  Each insurance company has a team of investigators that focus on insurance fraud.  For example, Horizon has (at last count) over two dozen investigators. 

This is important for a number of reasons.  Insurance companies, as private entities, are not bound by the same laws and restrictions as police.  Thus, you have no Miranda rights if they question you. However, you can still implicate yourself and anything you say will be used against you.  At the same time, an attorney can work with the insurance companies to get them off your back while limiting your criminal exposure.  While the insurance companies must inform law enforcement at some point, there are ways to make cases very unattractive to law enforcement. 

These four defendants probably did not have an attorney working this case from the start.  As a result, they all will have felony criminal record and Tucker will get free housing courtesy of NJ tax payers.

TRENTON – Attorney General Anne Milgram and Criminal Justice Director Deborah L. Gramiccioni announced that a former Essex County insurance company employee pleaded guilty today to conspiring to steal more than $94,100 through fraudulent disability insurance claims.

According to Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Riza Dagli, LaShondrea Tucker, 32, of Plainfield, pleaded guilty before Superior Court Judge Michael A. Petrolle in Essex County to second-degree insurance fraud, a charge contained in a Dec. 18, 2008 state grand jury indictment.

Judge Petrolle scheduled Tucker’s sentencing for Sept. 23. The state will recommend a sentence of five years in state prison.

Three of Tucker’s co-defendants – Erick Streeter, Louise Fedrick and Deborah Ruffin are also scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 23. Streeter, 44, of Newark, pleaded guilty on April 6 to third-degree theft by deception. Fedrick, 40, of Irvington, pleaded guilty on April 6 to third-degree forgery. And Ruffin, 49, of Newark, pleaded guilty on June 18 to third-degree theft by deception. All of the charges were contained in the Dec. 18, 2008 state grand jury indictment.

In pleading guilty, Tucker, who was employed as a disability claims manager for Prudential Insurance Company, admitted that between Sept. 22, 2003 and March 23, 2004, she created fraudulent disability claims using the names and other identifiers of actual people enrolled in a teachers’ disability plan. Tucker admitted that she diverted 21 checks and two electronic fund transfers totaling over $94,100.

Tucker admitted that she issued the diverted checks, which totaled $66,700, in the names of the insured individuals and sent them to Streeter. Streeter engaged Fedrick and Ruffin to assist him with the cashing of the claims checks. Fedrick admitted to forging the signatures on the checks for deposit.

The investigation further revealed that Tucker opened an Internet bank account with Net Bank. Two electronic fund transfers in the approximate amount of $27,400 were subsequently deposited into the Net Bank account representing fraudulent sick pay from Prudential Insurance Company.

Detective Weldon Powell, Civil Investigator Robert Brescia and Deputy Attorney General Joan M. Burke were assigned to the investigation. Burke represented the state at the guilty plea hearing. This case was referred to OIFP by the Special Investigative Unit of the Prudential Insurance Company which initially uncovered the fraud and assisted OIFP in the investigation. Acting Prosecutor Dagli thanked Prudential for its assistance in this matter.

Examination Under Oath: How the Insurance Company Will Set You Up June 7, 2009

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An insurance fraud charge usually starts well before the police get involved.  As I’ve said before, insurance companies employ large teams of investigators, lawyers and others who do nothing else but insurance fraud investigation.  Once they have enough evidence to deny the claim or get money back, they call the police and hand them a case tied up in a bow and ready to prosecute.

If you submit an insurance claim and the company suspects fraud, they will likely send you a letter for an “Examination Under Oath” or EUO.  An Examination Under Oath is basically a deposition, but since there is no actual case, they call it an Examination Under Oath.  An attorney will question you under oath about every last detail of your claim and everything you say will be taken down by a court reporter.

Thus, if you try to change your mind later on, the prosecutor on the case will hammer you as you gave a very detailed statement under oath.  So, your credibility will be shot regardless of whether you were mistaken or lying.  Regardless, your statement made during the Examination Under Oath will be used against you.   The worst part is that you can’t challenge the statement as you were not questioned by the police.

So, what to do if you get a letter requesting a Examination Under Oath?  Call an attorney and make sure that the attorney knows that he or she is doing when it comes to insurance fraud.  As I practice in every court in New Jersey, I would be more than happy to help you if you get a request for an Examination Under Oath.  The best part about getting an attorney for an Examination Under Oath is that it is rarely expensive and if you are never charged with insurance fraud, you will be saving many thousands of dollars in addition to the damage such a charge would do to your reputation.

Outside of New Jersey?

My consulting practice is available nationwide.  Hiring a litigation consultant to help defend you is a cost-effective way of getting a tough lawyer on your side.  Call me anytime to discuss your case.