FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 14, 2021
(LANSING, MICH) As a result of a cooperative investigation between the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) Fraud Investigation Unit and the Ogemaw County Sheriff’s Office, a West Branch man has been sentenced to 90 days in jail and must also pay restitution of nearly $775,000 for an alleged insurance scam.
Darrell Lee Hardenburgh, of West Branch, appeared on April 21 before the Ogemaw County 34th Judicial Circuit Court. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail and three years’ probation for receiving and concealing stolen property in excess of $20,000. As part of the plea, Mr. Hardenburgh was not charged with several additional counts of insurance fraud but was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $746,529.21 to Hastings Mutual Insurance Company and $28,339.60 to The Hanover Insurance Group. He was also ordered to turn over all medical equipment used in the scheme to law enforcement.
After an auto accident that allegedly left him wheelchair bound, Mr. Hardenburgh was accused of fraudulently receiving attendant care and medical equipment provided by his insurance company. As a result of information gathered by the Ogemaw County Sheriff’s Office during an investigation into the theft of a backhoe, Hastings Mutual Insurance Company filed an insurance fraud complaint with DIFS against Mr. Hardenburgh. Working together, DIFS Fraud Investigation Unit investigators and the County Sheriff’s Office determined that Mr. Hardenburgh could in fact walk. At that time, Mr. Hardenburgh was facing charges for the backhoe theft and a plea deal was reached that included restitution for the alleged insurance fraud.
“Fraudulent insurance claims drive up insurance costs for everyone, and I want to thank the Ogemaw County Sheriff’s Office for partnering with us to bring Mr. Hardenburgh to justice,” said DIFS Director Anita Fox. “Suspected insurance fraud can be reported to DIFS easily and, in most cases, anonymously, so we strongly encourage consumers to speak up if they see something suspicious.”
“The conclusion of this case was a joint effort with the Michigan State Police and the Ogemaw Sheriff’s Office working hand in hand, along with the DIFS Fraud Investigation Unit,” said Ogemaw Sheriff Brian Gilbert. “I am pleased that through this investigation, we were able to uncover the alleged fraudulent activity and donate the recovered wheelchairs to the Commission on Aging in Gaylord.”
The DIFS Fraud Investigation Unit investigates criminal and fraudulent activity related to the insurance and financial markets and works with the Attorney General and law enforcement to prosecute these crimes. Suspected insurance fraud can be reported to DIFS safely, easily and, in most cases, anonymously by calling 877-999-6442 or online by visiting the department’s website.
The mission of the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services is to ensure access to safe and secure insurance and financial services fundamental for the opportunity, security, and success of Michigan residents, while fostering economic growth and sustainability in both industries. In addition, the Department provides consumer protection, outreach, and financial literacy and education services to Michigan residents. For more information, visit Michigan.gov/DIFS or follow the Department on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.