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'Price Is Right' Spins Into Workers' Comp Fraud

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By Brett Snider, Esq. on June 06, 2013 10:24 AM

A bad way to continue a workers' compensation claim is to show up on "The Price Is Right," as a North Carolina woman learned after pleading guilty to fraud in federal court this week.

Postal worker Cathy Cashwell lied on her September 2011 workers' compensation paperwork, claiming that she was incapable of standing or reaching. This is despite a 2009 appearance on "The Price Is Right" in which she reached up and spun a giant prize wheel twice, reports The Huffington Post.

Cashwell is not alone when it comes to workers' comp fraud, but in most cases, employers may not be lucky enough to catch their "impaired" employees on a TV game show.

Cashwell's Fraudulent Claim

In Cashwell's fradulent workers' comp claim, she insisted she could not lift mail trays into a truck due to a job-incurred shoulder injury from 2004, reports Raleigh, North Carolina's WRAL-TV.

Workers' comp will generally cover injuries that occur while performing work-related tasks or duties. But in this case, the nearly decade-old injury wasn't keeping Cashwell from an active lifestyle. She was also seen lifting heavy furniture and even zip-lining on a cruise.

In addition to appearing on "The Price Is Right," Cashwell was caught red-handed riding a zipline on a cruise, reports WRAL, which can hurt your back even if you don't claim to be injured.

Spotting and Dealing With Workers' Comp Fraud

Cashwell's case is not unique. For example, between 2009 and 2010, the California Department of Insurance estimated that more than $1 billion dollars were potentially lost due to workers' compensation fraud. So regardless of the state, catching and stopping workers' comp fraud is key for employers.

Business owners can try to prevent workers' comp fraud by:

  • Paying attention to a job candidate's work history and being on the lookout for suspicious signs that may indicate a serial fraudster;
  • Making the workers' comp policy clearly available to employees and educating them on the cost of workers' comp to the business; and
  • Taking complaints about hazardous or onerous job conditions seriously, as fraud is often committed by disgruntled employees.

As for reporting workers' comp fraud, the Department of Labor in your state should have either a downloadable or online form which, upon your submission, will begin the investigative process.

It may also be wise to consult an experienced workers' comp attorney in your area before you proceed to file a report.

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