A Jersey City woman has been charged with stealing $46,000 in worker’s compensation dependency benefits meant for her dead mother, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Wanda Berry, 53, of Jersey City, was indicted on charges of second-degree insurance fraud and third-degree theft by deception in an indictment handed up by a state grand jury in Trenton on Thursday, Grewal announced yesterday.
Berry, whose mother died in November 2014, fraudulently claimed to New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Group (“NJM”) that her mother was alive in order to continue collecting the $1,400 monthly insurance benefit her mother had been receiving.
“We allege that Berry used lies and deceit to illegally keep her mother’s monthly benefit checks coming for years after her death,” Grewal said in a statement.
“We will not allow individuals to manipulate and undermine the insurance system to satisfy their selfish greed.”
“Cashing benefit checks meant for someone else is stealing,” added Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Tracy M. Thompson. “This indictment sends a message that anyone caught engaging in this kind of insurance fraud faces serious charges.”
According to the indictment, in 2015 Berry falsely represented to NJM representatives that her mother was alive and living in a nursing home under a doctor’s care.
In 2016, she falsely represented that her mother was alive in hospice care, and provided a fraudulent doctor’s note to support that false claim, according to the indictment.
Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $15,000.
Deputy Attorney General Crystal Callahan presented the case to the grand jury. Detective Amy Carson coordinated the investigation. Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Thompson thanked NJM for referring the matter to OIFP.
Thompson also noted that some important cases have started with anonymous tips.
People who are concerned about insurance cheating and have information about a fraud can report it anonymously by calling the toll-free hotline at 1-877-55-FRAUD, or visiting www.njinsurancefraud.org.