By Melissa Vince, BWC Public Relations Manager
When the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation created its Special Investigations Department (SID) in 1993, the new department boasted a staff of a dozen people and offices in just three cities to combat fraud across Ohio’s 88 counties. Data was stored in paper files and agents relied on such state-of-the-art equipment as pagers, payphones and binoculars, not to mention video cameras the size of small SUVs.
SID looks vastly different today. Staffed with 118 agents, supervisors and support personnel, the department works out of 11 offices across the state and investigates hundreds of fraud cases a year, from workers who fake injuries to physicians running pill mills. Agents are armed with smart phones and sophisticated investigatory devices they don’t talk about publicly.
In 23 years, SID has identified more than $1.7 billion in savings, as well as:
- Researched 117,820 allegations;
- Completed 64,255 investigations;
- Referred 4,897 subjects for prosecution; and
- Secured 2,595 criminal convictions.
Says SID Director Jim Wernecke: “Even after all these successes, we know fraud still persists, and our goal remains the same after more than two decades: to detect and deter workers’ compensation fraud in Ohio and return misappropriated funds to caring for injured workers and improving workplace safety.”
While tried and true techniques remain important to a successful case, we’re also committed to keeping pace with the most up-to-date resources, such as digital forensics and analytical intelligence, including predictive modeling, to root out otherwise undetected fraudulent activity. We also use social media and specialized presentations to educate and build awareness.
One of many ways we build awareness is by eagerly joining our fraud-fighting colleagues around the country and abroad each November to participate in International Fraud Awareness Week. The campaign, which runs until Saturday, was established by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners to highlight the issue of fraud and help minimize its impacts.
Most weeks, you’ll find us sharing our fraud news on #Fraud Friday. But this week we’ll have a new fraud feature each day, including tips for identifying and preventing fraud, new cases, and insights from our investigators on what they do here every day to stop workers’ comp fraud in Ohio. So keep an eye here on our blog and on our Facebook and Twitter pages for fresh content.
Happy Fraud Awareness Week!
And don’t forget to keep those tips coming. To report workers’ comp fraud in Ohio, click here or call our fraud hotline at 1-800-644-6292.