A Tacoma man was charged after filing a $20,000 claim for a fictitious dead cat, using pet photos he lifted off the Internet, the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner said.
“We’ve handled some pretty unusual fraud cases, but this is one of the stranger ones,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler.
Yevgeniy M. Samsonov, 29, has been charged with first-degree attempted theft and felony insurance fraud in Pierce County Superior Court.
Authorities said that on March 27, 2009, Samsonov was involved in a minor traffic accident in Tacoma. A driver behind him was stopped at a traffic light when her foot slipped off the brake. Damage to both vehicles was very minor.
Samsonov filed a claim that included chiropractic treatment of soft tissue injuries. The other driver’s insurer, PEMCO, paid him $3,452.
Two and a half years later, Samsonov sought additional payment from PEMCO. He said that in addition to the vehicle damage and medical claim, his beloved cat Tom had been in the car and killed in the accident, the commissioner’s office said.
The company issued him a check for $50 to compensate him for the cat.
Samsonov told PEMCO that he’d paid $1,000 for the cat, that had been like a son to him. He asked for a payment of $20,000 and sent the company two photos he said he’d taken of his cat. A PEMCO claims representative did a Google images search and discovered identical cat images appearing on websites, blogs and Facebook pages.
Insurance authorities said the two images Samsonov submitted are actually of two different cats. Neither belonged to Samsonov, the office said.
PEMCO canceled its $50 check and forwarded the case to Kreidler’s anti-fraud unit.