Three New York residents were arrested on June 30, 2010 for forging and cashing claim checks to steal close to $500,000 in a plot that ran for nearly a decade.

Lisa Kline, 42, of Albany was employed as a claim examiner by Progressive Insurance Company between 2000 and 2006, and later worked for Mercury Insurance before she was fired last December. Before she was fired, she got some serious work done, but that work was seriously underhanded. Kline used her position to cash checks made out to legitimate claimants who were unaware that the checks had even been issued.

According to the investigation, legitimate claims were paid to policyholders before Kline issued insurance checks for supplemental payments to the policyholders. Unfortunately, those supplemental payments weren’t going to customers – they were supplementing Kline’s pocketbook. She would use fake claim numbers, or no claims numbers on the checks, before forging claimants’ signatures and countersigning the checks to make them payable to her account.

She didn’t do all of the work though. Kline enlisted the help of April Martin, 37, and Harry Mercado, 36, in her dirty dealings, and had the two pull the same signature tricks. The three are accused of stealing approximately $122,000 from Progressive and $352,000 from Mercury for a total of $474,000 in stolen funds from the two companies.

It was a bank clerk that caught the transgressing trio, when an unusual number of checks bearing different claimants’ names were being countersigned and cashed by Kline for deposit into her personal bank account.

The money stolen from Mercury led to felony charges against all three. Kline was charged with second degree grand larceny and first degree falsifying business records, while Martin and Mercado were both charged with fourth degree grand larceny and second degree criminal possession of a forged instrument. Charges for the money stolen from Progressive are still pending.

While grand larceny normally carries a five-year statute of limitations, that rule does not apply to an ongoing scheme, according to Ron Klug, a spokesman for the state’s insurance department. Kline took stealing office supplies to a whole new criminal level, and as a result has signed away at least five years of her life.