Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. Along similar lines regarding fraud, some criminals think that if a scam worked once, why not try it again. (After all, why reinvent the wheel?) A story posted on tells about a California woman who claimed she was burnt by a cup of spilled hot coffee.

The article states that a California woman purchased a cup of coffee at a fast food establishment drive-thru. Unfortunately, she stated that the lid was not tightly secured causing it to spill on her right hand. (How many times have we heard this copy cat tale?) The injured woman submitted a claim including photos validating her second-degree burn to her insurance provider. She also claimed workers’ compensation benefits.

According to state claims officials, it became apparent that the photos had been copied from the Internet along with hospital documentation that did not belong to her. Suspicions were further compounded after the woman’s medical provider was contacted. Unfortunately, the fast food chain’s insurer had already paid out $2,000 to the woman for her alleged injury.

The 38-year-old woman turned herself into authorities and is currently free on bail. She is facing 21 felony counts at her upcoming preliminary hearing. It is important to remember that this woman is innocent until proven guilty.

Regardless of the outcome in this case, it remains instructive. Workers’ compensation fraud can be easy to perpetrate and the methods easy to repeat. Let’s hope the only ones who learn from this case are the investigators and not future copy cats waiting for an opportunity to strike.

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