More than 500 guests from 24 states attended the two-day event at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Special guest speakers were Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane and IASIU President Wade Wickre. The conference also featured the 2014 Pennsylvania Fraud Fighter awards, presented by the Executive Director of the IFPA, Ralph Burnham, the President of the Greater Pittsburgh Chapter of IASIU, Diane Svec, and the President of the Delaware Valley Chapter IASIU, Thomas Donahue.
2014 Conference Highlights
- The 2014 Insurance Fraud Conference kicked off with a personal appearance by Kathleen G. Kane, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s first ever woman to be elected Pennsylvania Attorney General, who thanked conference attendees for their work in fighting insurance fraud, both in Pennsylvania and in neighboring states. Attorney General Kane, noting that she herself had been an insurance fraud prosecutor, stated, “As an Assistant District Attorney in Lackawanna County for 12 years, I was present when the IFPA first formed and had the privilege of leading the state’s first multiregional Insurance Fraud Task Force. I remain as committed to investigating and prosecuting insurance fraud today as I was 18 years ago."Kane spoke also of her commitment to protecting Pennsylvania’s children and the elderly, and of her seeing illegal drugs as Pennsylvania’s present number one public safety threat. In 2013, the Attorney General’s revitalized Child Predator Section obtained a sixfold increase in arrests, as the state’s first Mobile Street Crimes Unit was launched to attack communities’ gang-violence and drug trafficking problems.
- IFPA Executive Director Ralph Burnham, on behalf of the IFPA’s Board of Directors and the officers and members of the conference co-host chapters of IASIU, then thanked all attendees for their work during the past year, and their help in ensuring Pennsylvania’s continued success in the fight against insurance fraud. Burnham, who is stepping down later this year, reflected on some of the organization’s milestones, and his vision for the future of the organization. “Through our statewide TV ad campaigns, we have helped people know insurance fraud when they see it and be willing to report it,” said Burnham, “and fraud reporting in Pennsylvania has more than doubled since 2007. Our TV ads that made that possible here are being shared through the national Coalition Against Insurance Fraud with your fraud fighting colleagues in some 30 other states.” Burnham credited the IFPA’s social marketing partner, the Harrisburg, Pa based Partnership of Packer, Oesterling and Smith, Inc., with creating the highly effective ads and statewide campaigns.
- Burnham, then invited IASIU President Wade Wickre, Nationwide Insurance SIU Director for the Southeastern United States, to the podium to address conference attendees. Wickre, who began his career as a Norfolk, Va patrol officer, joined Nationwide Insurance in 1991. He was instrumental in forming Virginia’s IASIU Chapter and now as IASIU President is advancing the work of fraud investigators nationally and internationally. Wickre congratulated conference attendees for making Pennsylvania’s fraud-fighting model a success. In noting that SIU and law enforcement communication and cooperation were the keys of success, his request to attendees that “everyone stand and exchange business cards for the next two minutes” was greatly enjoyed by all in the melee that ensued.
- Following the conference’s opening, Burnham announced that Pennsylvania’s Fraud Fighters had nominated two of their colleagues’ work for recognition and was joined onstage by IASIU Delaware Valley Chapter President Tom Donahue, of Kemper Services Group, and IASIU Greater Pittsburgh Chapter President Diane Svec, of Erie Insurance.
- Donahue presented Detective Larry Patterson of the Delaware County District Attorney’s Criminal Investigation Division with a 2014 Fraud Fighter Award for his cooperation and communication with SIU in pursuing insurance fraud offenders in Delaware County. In one case investigated by Patterson, referred to his office by Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association SIU, a woman had claimed she’d been injured while working as a care giver in a group home operated by a firm insured for workers’ compensation by PMA. After being cleared by a medical doctor to return to work, she’d continued to claim that her workplace injury made it impossible for her to perform her duties, obtaining more than $15,000 in workers’ compensation wage loss benefits through her claim of continuing temporary total disability. Investigation, however, established that she’d been operating an unlicensed day care business and working out at a local gym while receiving wage loss benefits.
- Burnham presented Assistant District Attorney John Doyle of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office with a 2014 Fraud Fighter Award, applauding his efforts and expertise shown during his successful prosecution of a high profile medical insurance fraud investigation. In 2013, Doyle’s skillful presentation of volumes of documentation and testimony of multiple witnesses had convinced a jury to find a pain management center’s owner and office manager guilty of all charges for having defrauded multiple insurers of some $1 million in claim payments through $5 million in fraudulent claims. In the “upcoding” fraud scheme, a $480 medical procedure performed on patients’ nerve tissue in joints and muscles had been fraudulently billed insurers as a $4,800, much more risky and invasive procedure performed on patients’ brains.
- Burnham then recognized recently retired IFPA Board Members, John M. Henry and Edward J. Litchko, with 2014 Fraud Fighter Awards for their years of service to insurers and insurance consumers while serving on the IFPA’s Board of Directors. Upon presenting the awards, Burnham noted, “The billions of dollars lost each year by insurers to insurance fraud threatens everyone’s access to affordable insurance. It has been their collective experience and wisdom in guiding the IFPA that has ensured that Pennsylvania’s criminal prosecutors have the tools to combat this public threat.”
- Henry had been legislatively appointed to serve on the IFPA’s Board from 2003 through the end of 2013 as representative of auto and then general commercial liability insurers, when he retired as Senior Special Investigator from Motorists Insurance Group to launch the investigative services and consulting firm Re/Con Group.
- Litchko, after a 28 year federal criminal law enforcement career with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, had joined Independence Blue Cross (IBC) in April 2000 as Senior Director of Corporate & Financial Investigations. While at IBC, he had been legislatively appointed to serve on the IFPA Board from 2005 through the end of 2013 as the representative of health insurers. Litchko had also enjoyed a parallel military career with the U.S. Army, retiring with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
- Surprising conference attendees, Burnham gave a preview of the IFPA’s upcoming Fall 2014 “Don’t Be A But” campaign. Showing animation work done by the Camp Hill, Pa based creative firm Brain Vessel, Burnham said “We’re building upon what we’ve learned from our more traditional fraud prevention work, to reach and educate younger insurance users so that they won’t become part of tomorrow’s fraud statistics.”
- Monday’s agenda concluded with a pair of educational and informative topics presented conference attendees. Robert T. Horst, Esq., of Curtin & Heefner LLP, spoke on the topic of “Ethics, Morality and the Special Investigator” while Louis Riggio, Training and Communications Manager for Verisk Insurance Solutions, demonstrated the use of ISO ClaimSearch in detecting fraud patterns and rings through forensic analysis of claims data. On Monday evening, attendees enjoyed a reception which provided an opportunity to both socialize and renew professional acquaintances.
Throughout the two-day conference, attendees benefited from 12 additional educational breakout sessions that included health care fraud, heavy vehicle event data recorders, auto theft, cellphone investigations, foreclosed property claims and many more topics. Concurrent exhibitor booths provided attendees idea sharing and new business opportunities.