April 20, 2017
OLYMPIA, Wash. – Three people were recently charged with felonies in King County Superior Court after investigations by Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s Criminal Investigations Unit (CIU).
Shannon Schroeder, 38, of Everett, was charged with one count of filing a false insurance claim and pleaded not guilty to the charge.
According to the investigation, Schroeder filed a claim with Esurance in July 2016 after she rear-ended another car on Interstate 5 in the Seattle area. The estimated amount of the claim for damage to both cars was approximately $9,500. Schroeder purchased the insurance policy the day before she filed the claim. However, Washington State Patrol’s collision report showed the accident occurred one hour before Schroeder bought the insurance policy online. The company denied the claim and referred the case to CIU.
Theresa Smith, 39, Renton, was charged with one count of filing a false insurance claim. She failed to appear in court to face the charges, and now joins Kreidler’s insurance fraud most wanted. A bench warrant for her arrest was issued and bail is set for $5,050.
According to the investigation, Smith filed a renter’s insurance claim with State Farm in July 2015 for $9,000 for damage to two area rugs. Smith said a light bulb in her apartment exploded and caused the rugs to catch fire. She provided a handwritten receipt for the two rugs, showing she bought them from a friend for $4,500 each. State Farm found a nearly identical claim that was filed with a different insurer in May 2015 by the friend who sold Smith the rugs. The company denied the claim and referred the case to CIU.
Serenity Armstrong, 45, Sammamish, was charged with one count of filing a false insurance claim.
According to the investigation, Armstrong fell on a grease spill outside of an IHOP restaurant while she was on vacation in Hawaii. Armstrong sought treatment at a Renton chiropractor after the vacation, and the restaurant’s insurance company, Island Insurance, settled Armstrong’s medical claims for $7,500.
Later that year, Armstrong submitted falsified medical bills from a nonexistent chiropractic clinic totaling $9,120 to Island Insurance and also to Fireman’s Fund Insurance, the insurer for a hotel next to the IHOP. Fireman’s Fund sent Armstrong a check for $1,000. Island Insurance did some research and was unable to find the fake chiropractic business, so it denied her claim and referred the case to CIU.
Kreidler’s CIU investigates insurance fraud and works with the Attorney General’s Office and local prosecutors to prosecute criminal cases. Insurance fraud costs the average family $400 to $700 per year in increased premiums. Consumers can report suspected insurance fraud on the Insurance Commissioner’s website.
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