Filed Under:, Investigative

Too Social for Their Own Good?

Using Internet surveillance to catch workers’ compensation cheaters

Not since the first time someone picked up a video camera to document malingering by a workers’ compensation claimant has technology given us such a powerful tool to combat fraud as social networking. Video surveillance—along with traditional investigative techniques—are still effective in catching cheats, but social networking adds a new tool to the investigator's arsenal that can effectively and efficiently detect fraud and reduce claims costs.

Workers’ compensation investigators are increasingly scouring networking sites to help insurers and employers resist paying bogus claims. And it is just not Facebook, Twitter and YouTube anymore, but a bevy of new sites that include photo-sharing and new entrants such as Google-plus. The technology continues to evolve and expand, in many ways making it easier for investigators to positively identify claimants and determine whether their online lives jive with the claims they have filed. The number of claims files closed thanks to online detective work continue to pile up. Consider:

Verifying photos and video also has become easier thanks to new "geo-tagging" technology. No longer can a claimant claim that a photo or video of them frolicking on the beach was shot pre-injury. Date and location data are embedded into almost all online media, so it is tough to lie about those vacation photos posted on Facebook and the growing number of photo-sharing sites.

Social networking investigations have given insurers an edge over dishonest claimants—and that's making personal injury attorneys a bit edgy. More and more lawyers are requiring that their clients take down potentially incriminating postings on their sites immediately upon filing claims and refrain from future posts. Attorneys are tired of putting time and effort into getting settlements for their clients only to see their cases dissolve as online evidence melts away the credence of such claims.

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