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Ohio BWC is on the lookout for workers' comp fraud

People who double-dip by earning an impermissible income while also receiving workers’ compensation benefits cost Ohio employers millions of dollars a year. To combat this, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation investigates cases of suspected fraud, and makes sure those cheating the system face criminal charges.

The problem is widespread. In 2014 alone, BWC convicted 132 people for workers’ compensation fraud, according to WFMJ-TV. One of those cases provides an example of how BWC investigators do their work.

The suspect was a man in his 40s who had been approved for benefits after a work injury. But starting late in 2013, BWC began capturing video of the man continuing to work as a maintenance man. Footage showed him continuing to perform physically demanding labor, including working on a roof and using a ladder, things that he supposedly was unable to do because of his injuries. BWC confirmed the man’s identity by showing his face several times in the footage.

The worker was indicted on several charges. He later pleaded guilty to a felony charge of workers’ compensation fraud. He could be sentenced to up to one year in prison on May 27, and he may also be forced to repay the benefits he received.

Besides keeping insurance premiums for employers from rising artificially, investigations like this one also protect workers with legitimate injuries, by preventing funds from going to fraudulent claims, according to a BWC fraud investigator. He said his unit works every day to uncover cases like the one discussed above.

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