NYSID Emphasizes “Fraud Awareness Week” with Three Arrests

August 11, 2003

New York’s Superintendent of Insurance, Gregory V. Serio announced the arrest of three western New Yorkers during National Fraud Awareness Week, August 3-9, stating that they had “come at an important time of the year.”

The bulletin indicated that Lynda Morganti of Cheektowaga, Richard Vacanti formerly of Buffalo and Kevin Lis of Buffalo, “have been charged with a variety of insurance frauds.” Serio said the arrests served to remind everyone of the “threat of fraud and the impact fraud has on society. Insurance fraud victimizes every New Yorker, costing consumers billions of dollars in the form of increased insurance premiums and higher prices for goods and services. The Department is committed to fighting insurance fraud throughout New York State.”

Vacanti, 51, allegedly moved to Florida while collecting workers’ comp benefits relative to two claims pertaining to injuries he sustained while working as a licensed practical nurse in Buffalo. While residing in Florida, he continued to submit documents reflecting his ongoing inability to return to gainful employment, and therefore continued to receive benefit checks. The investigation revealed that he had returned to gainful employment, including nursing, and therefore, illegally collected $4,770.

Lis began collecting workers’ compensation benefits from Oriska Insurance, after claiming a back injury sustained while he was employed in a tire-retreading firm in Buffalo. It is alleged that he collected approximately $1,400 fraudulently because he had in fact been working.

Morganti, 31, allegedly reported to the Cheektowaga Police that her 1994 Chevrolet was stolen from her driveway. The car was recovered the following day in the City of Buffalo destroyed by fire. The investigation revealed that the car was set on fire at the request of Morganti in order to claim approximately $3,000 in insurance money.

“These arrests are the result of joint investigations with the Department’s Frauds Bureau, the New York State Police, the NYS Workers’ Compensation Inspector General’s Office, the State Insurance Fund, the Cheektowaga Police Department, the Erie County District Attorney’s Office and the Florida Department of Insurance Frauds Bureau,” said the bulletin.

“Governor Pataki has directed the Department to work with law enforcement agencies around the state to marshal efforts and pool resources as the best way to protect New Yorkers from insurance fraud and in line with that directive,” Serio continued. “It is through this collaborative work and the help of educated consumers that we can win this fight against insurance fraud.”

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