Julia Johnson, CFE
ACFE Research Specialist
We’ve all found ourselves in an awkward situation from time to time. As uncomfortable as they are, it can sometimes be hard to avoid them.
You’re at the grocery store when someone unexpectedly waves at you so you wave back, only to realize they were waving at the person behind you.
You nod off at your desk right when your boss walks by.
It’s the end of the date and you say bye, but then you both start walking in the same direction.
Those are all pretty cringe-worthy moments, but they don’t compare to these five awkward situations that ultimately led to the discovery of a fraud scheme. Unfortunately for these fraudsters, they couldn’t just walk away and pretend it didn’t happen.
Steamy Text Leads to Discovery of Marriage Fraud
Married couple Prince Mark Boley, an international soccer player from Liberia, and Amanda Hames-Whitman recently went to a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office in hopes of beginning the process for Boley to become a permanent resident. While Hames-Whitman was showing a USCIS official text messages on her phone from Boley, another one appeared from someone else that read, “we had the best sex ever.” The risqué text led to an official investigation into the validity of their marriage, and Boley subsequently admitted it was all a sham to obtain a green card.
Halloween Pumpkin Helps Solve Staged Attack
Thomas Lucey, a former Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority operator, was driving a trolley the night before Halloween when he claimed he was attacked by a stranger wearing a Michael Myers mask and carrying a plastic pumpkin. As a result of the alleged attack, Lucey filed for workers’ compensation and received long-term disability payments stemming from post-traumatic stress related to the incident. Fingerprints were lifted off the plastic pumpkin left behind as the alleged attacker fled, which led investigators to an acquaintance of Lucey. The acquaintance confessed that he was paid $2,000 by Lucey to stage the attack so that he could fraudulently collect workers’ compensation.
Misspelled Words Allude to Bogus Insurance Claim
A customer of Australian travel insurance company 1Cover Travel Insurance submitted a claim, stating that they were robbed of their backpack and new camera while on vacation in Fiji. As part of their claim, the customer submitted all necessary documents, which included the receipt for their pricey new Canon DSLR camera. At first glance, the receipt looked authentic with specific store details and the payment method used. Upon closer inspection, the insurer noticed that several words were misspelled on the receipt. The word “taxable” had been spelled “tacable,” and the word “approved” only contained one “p.” The insurance company then realized that the customer fabricated the receipt and that the insurance claim was fraudulent.
Dumbbells Lift a Workers’ Compensation Fraud
While a former sheriff’s deputy from San Diego, California, was working on light administrative duty, he claimed to have injured his back on the job lifting two five-pound water bottles. The man claimed the pain was too severe for the responsibilities of his position, so he stopped working and began collecting workers’ compensation benefits. An investigation into the case began after $57,000 in benefits were paid out for the seemingly minor injury that did not appear to be healing. Investigators followed the man to the gym one day where they recorded him doing dumbbell chest presses with 80-pound weights in each hand, 315-pound dead lifts and 600-pound leg presses. Once questioned, the man admitted to falsifying his physical condition to the doctor evaluating him for workers’ compensation purposes.
Public Bragging Leads to Tax Fraud Conviction
Rashia Wilson, the self-proclaimed “First Lady” of tax fraud, taunted authorities to catch her during the commission of a long-running tax fraud scheme. Wilson stole personal information from taxpayers without their knowledge to file tens of thousands of false and fraudulent tax returns. Wilson implicated herself by posting online statements such as, “I’m Rashia, the queen of IRS tax fraud” and flaunting her $90,000 Audi and having spent $30,000 on her daughter’s first birthday party. Wilson received a 21-year prison sentence for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.