Two Arrested in $120 Million Fake Comp Certificate Scheme
Monday, June 17, 2019 | 1552 | 0 | 23 min read
Two Georgia men have been arrested in connection with a $120 million scheme to supply fake certificates of workers' compensation insurance, an alleged act of fraud that reached from the East Coast to California.
The Georgia insurance commissioner and the California Department of Insurance announced that Wesley Owens, 47, and Beau Wilson, 34, both of Georgia, were arrested Thursday after two years of investigation.
A third suspect was arrested in Florida and another is still at large, Georgia authorities said.
Owens is CEO of Bison Workforce Solutions. He and Wilson allegedly created fake certificates of insurance, claiming large numbers of agricultural workers were insured when they were not, according to a news release.
The certificates were part of an employment package in which Bison supplied the workers and handled payroll and insurance. The certificates showed that the employees were temporary office workers, which carries a much lower risk classification than farmworkers, the Georgia Department of Insurance explained.
California and a number of other states require that larger farm operations provide comp coverage to workers.
In the alleged fraud, one or two workers per employer were actually be insured, but most were not, Georgia Insurance Department spokesman Brandon Wright explained.
The scheme collapsed when injury claims were filed in California but no insurance policy could be found to cover them, authorities said.
California insurance authorities investigated and decided to move forward with the case, according to the news release.
Georgia's district attorney is now handling the prosecution. The men could face up to 10 years in prison and fines of $10,000.
It is the second time this year that workers' comp insurance certificates have been at the center of a fraud investigation in Georgia. In January, a Brunswick insurance agent and his wife were indicted on charges of collecting premiums but not securing coverage, then printing fake certificates.
It's unclear if the two cases are related.