North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Analysts Look At Heartbreaking Fraud Escalation

December 30, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

The typical case of North Carolina workers’ compensation fraud involves only one kind of crime. But a breaking case out of the Bronx has been getting special attention throughout the workers’ comp community for its sheer complexity. On December 15th, New York police arrested 60-year-old Rosa Rivera, after prosecutors investigating her for federal tax fraud discovered that she had collected over $135,000 in workers’ comp benefits from New York State illegally. Ms. Rivera’s compounding legal woes illustrate just how seriously the government takes any fraud. Her story serves as a cautionary tale for those who have been toying with the idea of skirting the workers’ comp laws, rules and regulations.

It all began in 2002. Rivera, who had been working as a bookkeeper, hurt her elbow, ankle and knee at work. She claimed the injuries prevented her from working. The NY Workers’ Compensation Board awarded her $400 a week in benefits. Meanwhile, in 2004, right under the nose of authorities, she began operating an income tax filing service out of her home. She ran this business for 5 years, until she was stopped in October 2009 and charged with fraud for filing false tax returns for her business. In September, Ms. Rivera pled guilty to the federal charges and got ordered to pay restitution in excess of $150,000. She also faces a two year probation.

Now, with this additional workers’ comp fraud charge — a fraud amounting to $135,000+ allegedly purloined from the New York State Insurance Fund (NYSIF) — she may face up to 7 years behind bars. Her hearing at a Suffolk County Court has yet to be scheduled.

Defrauding the North Carolina workers’ compensation system – or any state system – can get you in serious trouble, even if you plead things like hardship or extreme circumstances. For instance, Ms. Rivera’s benefits of $400 a week certainly could not be considered lavish by any standards – particularly by New York City standards. So it’s understandable that individuals on worker’s comp might want to find ways to supplement their income. But if you skirt the law or bilk the system by lying about your injuries — pretending they’re worse than they really are — not only do you cheat the legitimately injured, but you also create hostility and distrust amongst the various participants in the NC workers’ comp system.

If you’ve been having trouble with an insurance company or employer — or with the bureaucracy in general — a qualified North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm can provide crucial, timely guidance. Empower yourself today by getting a better education in workers’ comp rules.

More Web Resources:

New York State Insurance Fund (NYSIF)

Rosa Rivera’s Double Trouble – Tax Fraud and Worker’s Comp Fraud