Aflac customers fake comas for payouts

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  A group of men and women accused of scheming insurance giant Aflac out of a million dollars have admitted their guilt before a federal judge.

One of the alleged ringleaders, 26-year-old Danielle Mahone, covered her face as she left the federal courthouse in downtown Columbus Monday. The former Aflac employee pleaded guilty in connection with a conspiracy that revolved around faulty insurance claims.

Mahone worked in the claims department at Aflac and the government says she partnered with an Aflac customer, Travis Washington, to submit the fake claims and recruit co-conspirators.

Washington has pleaded not guilty but the policy holders who allowed Mahone to use their information to keep the scheme going pleaded guilty to healthcare fraud Monday.

One of the co-defendants, Adrian Moore, is a former Columbus police officer. Another, Candace Garcia, also admits she filed false claims using her mother and father's policies as well as her own.

Thirteen people are charged in the case and Washington is the only one who has not entered a guilty plea in federal court.

Prosecutors say Danielle Mahone altered police reports, medical records and even MRI reports to back up the bad claims.

The fake records indicated some of the co-conspirators had slipped into comas after car accidents. Their checks came in the mail from Aflac for thousands of dollars but they admitted Monday they were never injured in an accident.

Oftentimes, Mahone or Washington would approach a co-conspirator, have them take out a policy, wait a period of time so as not to raise suspicion and submit the falsified claims. In most cases, Mahone and Washington would take a portion of the payout for their "assistance." While many of the policy holders did  not know specifics of what was being done to get the money, they admit they knew their personal information was being used to submit fraudulent claims. In court, prosecutors for the U.S. Attorney's Office say the co-defendants were told this could be done without them getting caught.

"Danielle has expressed extreme remorse over what has happened. She has, by her conduct, shown it. It's not words, she's done, said whatever she can to help. Whatever she did, other people took it and did things and sort of ran with it and it was outside of her control," Mahone's attorney, Mark Shelnutt said.

The defendants will be sentenced in the near future.

They each face up to 10 years in prison, up to a $250,000 fine or both.

On top of that, they each must pay back the amounts they stole from Aflac and they cannot accept or apply for an Aflac policy.

Travis Washington is scheduled to have a pretrial hearing on December 14th.

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