McALLEN, Texas (CN) – Five South Texas residents pleaded guilty to helping defraud Aflac of more than $3 million through phony car injury claims, and joined 22 others already in custody, federal prosecutors said.
Thirty-six were indicted in the case in June 2011, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
“The defendants routinely delivered lists of fake accidents and injuries to two physicians who practiced together in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico,” prosecutors said. “The physicians prepared an ‘accident report’ for each fake injury in exchange for a cash kickback of approximately $15 per accident report.
“In each report, the physicians falsely claimed they had provided treatment and prescribed medicine to the defendants for their purported injuries.
“Over time, the defendants and their co-conspirators faxed thousands of false injury claims and accident reports, purportedly certifying the fake injuries, to Aflac in Columbus, Ga. Aflac disbursed more than $3 million as a result of the false claims submissions.”
Thirty-five defendants have pleaded guilty to wire fraud, and 27 of them received federal prison sentences ranging from 6 to 30 months, prosecutors said.
Sentenced on Feb. 29 were Norma Flores, 56, of Palmview, to 15 months in prison and $105,905 in restitution; Nora Palacios, 55, of La Joya, to 15 months in prison and $75,025 in restitution; Georgina Flores, 34, of La Joya, to 8t months in prison and $61,805 in restitution; Jessica Herrera, 30, of Mission, to 6 months in prison and $34,510 in restitution; and Leonor B. Salinas, 46, of Edinburg, to 15 months in prison and $83,345 in restitution.