20 convicted in scheme to defraud AFLAC

McALLEN, Texas (AP) - Federal authorities say 20 South Texas residents have been convicted for their roles in a scheme to defraud the American Family Life Insurance Co.

In mid-June, 36 people were indicted on accusations they participated in the scheme designed to defraud Columbus, Ga.-based AFLAC millions of dollars by filing false claims. The Justice Department says they bought accident insurance and with the connivance of two Reynosa, Mexico, doctors filed minor injury claims thought too small to draw suspicion. In return, the border-city doctors received small kickbacks.

This week, 20 defendants pleaded guilty to wire fraud. All 20 face a possible maximum of sentence of 20 years in federal prison without parole and a $250,000 fine.

Federal investigators dubbed the case "Operation Sitting Duck," a play on the insurer's feathered mascot.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.