FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 11, 2021
(LANSING, MICH) A joint investigation conducted by the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) and the Ogemaw County Sheriff's Office has led to insurance fraud and identity theft charges against 14 individuals for allegedly submitting nearly $3 million in false insurance claims.
The charges relate to an alleged scheme to defraud AFLAC where the accused individuals submitted fake claims of injury to AFLAC indicating that they had received treatment at the Ogemaw Chiropractic Clinic. Nearly $3 million in false claims were paid out by AFLAC for treatments that never occurred before the insurer filed an insurance fraud complaint with DIFS. In a joint investigation with the Ogemaw County Sheriff's Office, the DIFS Fraud Investigation Unit (FIU) found sufficient evidence for the Ogemaw County Prosecutor's Office to issue charges against the 14 individuals listed below. The investigation is ongoing and additional charges may be filed in the future.
"This case began because someone suspected foul play and filed a complaint with DIFS, and I am proud of the work being done to put an end to this scheme," said DIFS Director Anita Fox. "These fraudulent claims make insurance more expensive for all of us, and I ask all Michiganders to support these efforts by reporting suspected insurance fraud online at Michigan.gov/ReportFraud2DIFS or by calling 877-999-6442."
The individuals charged are:
All 14 individuals were charged with one count of Insurance - Fraudulent Acts, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of four years in prison, a $50,000 fine, and the payment of restitution. As a result of the investigation, two defendants, Friemark and Ehinger, were also each charged with two counts of Identity Theft, a felony that also carries a maximum penalty of four years in prison, a $50,000 fine, and the payment of restitution for each count. All 14 individuals were arraigned in 34th Circuit Court in Ogemaw County and are pending initial hearings in front of Judge Richard Noble.
The DIFS Fraud Investigation Unit investigates criminal and fraudulent activity related to the insurance and financial markets and works with the Attorney General and other 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 DIFS' 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.