Tuesday, July 16

Beauty Queen Contestant Arrested for Insurance Fraud

In Riverside, California, a woman has been arrested for workers’ compensation fraud thanks to online videos of her participating in beauty pageants.

Shawna Lynn Palmer claimed to have fractured her toe last March while working for Stater Brothers in Riverside as a grocery store clerk. As a result of her injury, Palmer said she couldn’t wear a shoe or put weight on her foot, preventing her from working. During multiple visits to a doctor, she said she could not move her foot in any direction, and she was ordered to refrain from working. She consequently was granted workers’ compensation in March.

However, a Youtube video has surfaced of the 22-year-old participating in the 2014 Miss Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix pageant during the time she was receiving compensation — back in April. Contrary to Palmer’s claims of being unable to walk, she was videotaped walking in the contest while wearing high-heeled shoes, while showing no signs of discomfort.

After the pageant, Palmer went back to her doctor saying again that her foot hurt, and she was given crutches. Yet, once again, videos surfaced of her participating in pageants. During the time she was collecting workers’ compensation benefits, California insurance officials say she participated in at least two pageants, but possibly more.

Participating in high-profile events certainly made it easier for detectives to discover what Palmer was up to.

“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,” said Byron Tucker, deputy commissioner at the CDI, in an interview with a local news station.

What Palmer might not have realized is that hundreds of people attempt — and sometimes succeed — in falsifying insurance claims every year. According to the FBI, false insurance claims cost the average family $400 to $700 in increased premiums. For this reason, insurance companies often pay private investigators to check up on these claims in order to ensure they are being made legitimately.

As a result of this discovery, Palmer was arrested, and she was booked on three felony counts of insurance company fraud. If she is convicted, the maximum penalties are a year in county jail, restitution fees of $24,000, and three years of probation.

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