By Jeff Baker, BWC Special Investigations Department
When the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) created its Special Investigations Department (SID) in 1993, investigative professionals in the new department knew they would need to do more than detect, identify and investigate suspected workers’ compensation fraud. To fully meet the department’s mandate and mission, SID professionals would need to also deter fraud.
We felt one of the most effective ways to deter fraud might be to raise public awareness of what we do by reaching out to the media about our latest cases. In the years since, SID has collaborated with BWC’s Communications Department to issue news releases on many of the nearly 3,000 subjects convicted and sentenced as a result of our work.
To reach an even wider audience, we created our first social media accounts in 2011 and launched our Fraud Awareness Series via ohiobwcfraud and
twitter.com/ohiobwcfraud. Through our YouTube channel, we added videos showing undercover surveillance footage of subjects caught in act of committing their crimes.
The success of our Fraud Awareness Series can be measured by its reach beyond our initial audience. That is why we take note (ok, we admit we are thrilled) whenever one of our prosecution news releases is shared or re-Tweeted by a follower. Since 2014, we have seen this occur 39 times from just one follower — Larry Benson.
Larry has used our news releases as the basis for 39 of his Fraud of the Day blogs published by LexisNexis. Larry sees news releases for countless other successful fraud investigations by government agencies within hundreds of jurisdictions (local, state, and federal), so we are always delighted when he takes note of ours. We also appreciate his Fraud of the day website permits users to select their favorite examples by fraud type and state. For example, here is a filtered link to the Fraud of the Day articles for Ohio, including the 39 (and counting) articles pertaining to BWC.
Conveniently, E-mail subscribers to Fraud of the Day blogs may “get their fraud fix” by “waking up five days a week to the most current fraud article delivered straight to their inbox.”
But no matter how you access the Fraud of the Day blogs, you will note Larry’s clever use of headlines and tags referencing the subject’s type of fraud. A few of our favorites include:
- The owner of an excavation business without coverage Bulldozed December 23, 2015
- The owner of a transport company without coverage The Freeway to Prison February 9, 2016
- A swimming pool construction/maintenance contractor Swimming in Fraud December 20, 2016
- Wholly falsified statement of reported wages earned Making Stuff Up April 25, 2017
- A bowling coach Gutter Ball July 5, 2017
- Felon skipped court date due to imprisonment Fraud in Absentia August 8, 2017
- The owner of a cleaning business with lapsed coverage Dust Bunnies September 12, 2017
- The owner of a pool and spa company without coverage Grab on to the Life Raft January 31, 2018
- The owner of a high-volume garbage hauling business Garbage In, Garbage Out March 27, 2018
- A bartender Where Everyone Knows Your Name July 12, 2018
An overprescribing doctor Fraud Dispenser September 20, 2018
- A business owner who misclassified employees Misclassified November 13, 2018
- A doctor billing for services not rendered Lacking January 31, 2019
- Felon convicted on charges of breaking and entering, gross sexual imposition, burglary and other charges That’s Quite A Rap May 7, 2019
- Machine press operator and pizza shop employee Triple Dipper September 17, 2019
Of course, as humorous as these titles may be, we know that no fraud is a matter for laughter. We certainly take all crime seriously. That is why we have dedicated our careers to detecting, identifying, investigating, prosecuting, and deterring fraud. Like Larry, we, too, are willing to deploy clever or funny headlines in news releases, but that’s only to increase the likelihood that the media and general public will take note and read and heed the releases as the cautionary tales they are.
Widening our reach, getting our word out, deters fraud. In the spirit of International Fraud Awareness Week, we invite all of you to join us in combatting crime by continuing to follow this blog and Larry’s Fraud of the Day series this week and beyond.