Friday, October 30, 2009

Snohomish County woman pays $69,000 in restitution for insurance fraud

A Snohomish County woman who admitted to forging thousands of dollars in receipts for an insurance claim has paid $69,610 in restitution to her insurance company, State Farm. The case was investigated by the company and the Office of the Insurance Commissioner’s Special Investigations Unit.

Juli-Anna Rowe, 45, of Issaquah, has signed a diversion agreement with the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office. She agreed to pay full restitution of $66,610 – which she has done – and to attend a theft-awareness program and therapy. After three years, if Rowe completes the program as agreed, the insurance-fraud charge of “false claims or proof” will be dismissed.

The case stems from a 2005 insurance claim. On June 3, 2005, Rowe said, she loaded a rented U-Haul moving trailer with $85,370 in personal property and drove from her home in Washington toward her destination in California. In Oakland, Calif., she stopped to rest at a hotel. While there, she said the contents of the trailer were stolen.

State Farm paid Rowe $54,421 for the value of the property she said had been stolen. Her policy also allowed for nearly $31,000 in additional claims when she replaced some of the missing property.

In filing those additional claims, however, Rowe submitted numerous altered and forged receipts. In an interview with a detective from the state insurance commissioner’s special investigations unit, Rowe admitted to altering receipts by cutting and pasting increased amounts onto them, photocopying the forged papers and submitting those to State Farm. She also admitted that she did not replace all of the items she claimed she had.

Under the terms of her policy, intentionally concealing or misrepresenting any fact involved in a claim voids the entire claim. So Rowe paid back the $54,421 that State Farm had paid out, plus $15,189 in investigation expenses incurred by the insurer.

Special Investigations Unit Detective Sgt. Dan Sharp praised the work of State Farm on the case.

“They identified the fraud and did much of the initial investigation, making it easier for us to move ahead with this case,” he said.

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