Reporting Ian Schwartz
SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Cities are using a new tool in the fight against phony worker’s compensation claims, hiring private eyes to look at what people are posting online.
“It’s funny how much they share. You would think they would try and keep their secrets hidden, but they put it out there in the public,” said Alyssa Whatley.
Sacramento is one of the latest cities to hire the social media spies.
“It’s devastating. I’ve seen school districts nearly go bankrupt because of inflated claims,” said J.R. Robles.
Robles says phony claims, similar to a knee injury he investigated, cost the country $5 billion a year.
His firm — APEX Investigation — is one of a few the city of Sacramento has hired to try and catch people filing fake worker’s compensation claims.
“Maybe there is disciplinary action coming. So the next logical step for them is ‘well, should I take my chances with unemployment or worker’s comp?’ And, often time worker’s comp pays better than unemployment,” said Robles.
Robles says the fraud takes many forms. Lately, the way his company hunts it down does too.
“It’s a lot of catching, connecting everything. It’s like a puzzle,” said Whatley.
Whatley is a social media spy, one of three combing social media all day for a post, picture or check in that may show someone really isn’t injured like they claim.
Recently, through Facebook posts, she found out one guy’s work-ending back injury may be baloney.
“So every weekend he was going out to the clubs dancing and all that, handing out cards. So it was a good catch,” said Whatley.
In our push to get answers, CBS13 found Sacramento opened 625 new worker’s comp claims last year. Each of those claims, on average, costs nearly $9,000.
With those numbers, Robles says cities want to make sure the claims are true.
If you think fraud doesn’t affect you, he says to think again.
“According to the statistics, every single claim pays about $1,000 more in their annual premium because of insurance fraud,” Robles.
Sacramento officials say they only get a few cases a year because of the difficulty proving someone committed fraud intentionally.