Whether the claim is considered workers compensation or auto liability, the staff at ICU specializes in social media searches to ensure our clients get a clear and true snapshot into the lifestyles and daily activities of each individual subject. Is your subject exaggerating injuries or performing beyond their limitations? The evidence on your subject’s social media accounts can have a major impact on the outcome of a claim, but only if you know it!
Below is a list comprised of sites that the staff at ICU is proficient in searching. The sites include, but are CERTAINLY not limited to:
- Black Planet
Additionally, a good private investigative firm will not only search these sites for your subject (some stay off social media and are actually smarter than they look), but they will search for family, friends, and associates online, as well. If your subject isn’t active on social media, there’s a good chance their family and friends are. We have found countless photos and posts of claimants on their loved one’s accounts!
Shawna Lynn Palmer was arrested last month for workers compensation fraud…all thanks to her public Facebook posts!
The beauty pageant contestant participated in the 2014 Miss Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix Beauty Pageant, according to ABC7 Los Angeles. Palmer is featured in a YouTube video with the other pageant contestants clad in bikinis and high heels, strutting onstage, up and down the catwalk.
Palmer also posted pictures and videos of her and fellow contestants competing in pageants and other events on her personal Facebook page.
However, during these events, Palmer was collecting workers compensation benefits from her previous employer, Stater Brothers, for fracturing her toe on the job and claiming she wasn’t able to work (but she could walk in heels…).
Byron Tucker, deputy commissioner at the California Department of Insurance says, “She went to her doctor (and) told her employers that she couldn’t work. Had multiple visits to her doctor, was referred to a specialist, but all the time claiming she couldn’t wear a shoe, she couldn’t stand for long periods of time. She had a lot of difficulty walking.”
Investigators took to social media to help them make the case.
“You can’t post things to social media while claiming that you’re legitimately injured, taking a check from the state for worker’s compensation benefits and expect not to get caught,” Tucker said.
The beauty queen faces up to a year in jail if convicted. We hope she looks good in orange!
The staff at ICU Investigations is currently working on an almost identical case featuring a woman claiming injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident, while competing in one of the biggest pageants in the country! We will keep you posted!
According to Jennifer Peltz of Insurance Journal, New York prosecutors have issued just under 400 search warrants to Facebook to pull data including postings, friend lists, photos, and private messages as part of a disabilities benefit fraud investigation geared toward police and fire retirees. The case went public this past June, as Facebook has never received this overwhelming number of search warrants all at once.
Facebook is fighting back, and lawyers for other social media sites such as Foursquare, Kickstarter, Meetup, and Tumblr are allies. Facebook also has support from the New York Civil Liberties Union and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Richard Holwell, attorney representing the additional four tech companies joining alliances with Facebook, says, “With the burgeoning tech industry in New York, the need to protect the privacy of users has never been greater.”
Although some of the users that have been targeted have not yet been charged and may never see that day, prosecutors see it differently. Joan Vollero, spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney’s office, says, “Prosecutors have a right and a responsibility to collect evidence in criminal cases, wherever that information is stored.”
Out of the 381 warrants approved by a Manhattan judge in July of 2013, “some 134 people have been charged so far, more than half have pleaded guilty, and prosecutors have said more could be implicated,” according to Insurance Journal. The judge was provided with 93 pages of reasoning and details for all accounts targeted in the investigation.
The retirees were allegedly coached into claiming they were “too psychologically devastated to work. Instead, they led robust lives – some flew helicopters, traveled overseas, did martial arts, went fishing – and sometimes aired the alleged proof of their active lives on Facebook,” according to prosecutors.
Facebook is appealing the court order, even though they have already provided the information, as they feel that the prosecutors are reaching for a case. Insurance Journal says, “Facebook has said prosecutors cast too wide a net. Their campaign amounted to the online equivalent of searching ‘an entire neighborhood of nearly 400 homes.’”
Javier Panzar in an article for the LA Times states that actor and comedian, Tracy Morgan, has thankfully been released from care after a deadly New Jersey Turnpike crash and will continue with his recovery from his home, according to one of Morgan’s representatives.
Just before his release from a rehabilitation center, Morgan in conjunction with comedian Ardie Fuqua, Morgan’s assistant, Jeffrey Millea, and Millea’s wife, Krista Millea (who was 8 months pregnant at the time), filed a lawsuit again Walmart Stores Inc. over the deadly crash that left several injured and fellow comedian, James McNair (aka Jimmy Mack), 63, dead.
The lawsuit was filed on Thursday, July 10th, 2014 in U.S. District Court in New Jersey, which claims that Walmart was negligent in allowing the driver, 35-year-old Georgia resident, Kevin Roper, to operate the tractor trailer that struck Morgan’s limo after being awake for over 24 consecutive hours.
According to the LA Times, “A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board released last month said that Roper was going 20 miles above the speed limit on the New Jersey Turnpike the night of June 7 when the truck struck the rear of a 2012 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter limo van.”
Roper has entered a not guilty plea after being charged with one count of death by auto and four counts of assault by auto.
Walmart has apologized for the “terrible tragedy” in a statement made last month, and is fully cooperating in the investigation.
Sophia Pearson of Insurance Journal reports that two members of the NFL alumni, former Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Christian Ballard and New Orleans Saints linebacker Gregory Westbrooks have filed a lawsuit to represent all former NFL players. Their accusations? The National Football League Players Association and the league itself have committed fraud, negligence, and civil conspiracy in order to hide the risks of head injuries/concussions.
The formal complaint states, “Despite their knowledge and acceptance of the link between concussive and sub-concussive hits and cognitive declines, defendants continued to actively and purposefully conceal and misrepresent the severe neurological risks of repetitive TBI (traumatic brain injury).” The NFL itself is not listed as a defendant on the formal complaint.
Sadly, there is an abundance of evidence to back up these claims. According to Insurance Journal, “more than 5,000 ex-players have made accusations against the league over head injuries in dozens of lawsuits consolidated in federal court in Philadelphia.” Also, for over 20 years, millions of dollars in disability payments distributed from a retirement board have been awarded to ex-players that suffer from repetitive traumatic brain injury. Long story short, the union has been well aware of the risks.
On July 7th, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S. District Judge Anita Brody allowed preliminary approval of a $675 million settlement for claims that officials did not warn players of the dangers and associations between concussions and brain injuries.
Jennifer Massimo-Ruiz, 32, of Belmar, NJ has received a four-year state prison sentence after pleading guilty to third-degree insurance fraud. According to John J. Hoffman, acting Attorney General, Massimo-Ruiz defrauded the state after submitting a false claim to the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development for more than $8,800 of state temporary disability insurance.
On September 9th, 2013, Massimo-Ruiz entered her guilty plea and proceeded to admit she had submitted a false claim to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development containing fraudulent information on or around April 19th, 2010. According to WorkersCompensation.com, “New Jersey’s temporary disability law requires that a person be employed in the past year in order to be eligible for temporary disability benefits.”
The case was referred to the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor and an investigation followed. Massimo-Ruiz claimed she worked as an office manager at a family-owned company from the years of 2008 to 2010. In March of 2010, she was “eligible” for temporary disability benefits as she “went out” on maternity leave. However, the investigation determined that Massimo-Ruiz had not worked the year prior to applying for benefits.
As if committing insurance fraud wasn’t enough, one year of her sentence had been tacked on after Massimo-Ruiz falsely claimed she had cancer in multiple letters sent to Superior Court Judge, Robert J. Mega, in an attempt to “avoid or influence the pending sentencing,” according to the article by WorkersCompensation.com. She also admitted to forging two doctors’ signatures on the above mentioned letters. An additional year was added onto her sentence, bringing the grand total to four years in state prison.