Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said he wants to send a message to Oklahoma businesses that no fraud is too small.
He said he plans to “go on the road” across the state this year to encourage businesses to report suspected workers' compensation fraud to his office for prosecution.
“We're talking about — literally — probably dozens of meetings … on this issue,” he said in an interview at his office last week.
He said he wants businesses — particularly those that are self-insured — to know that he is serious about prosecuting workers' comp fraud.
“I want to raise awareness. I want to instill belief and confidence. I want to encourage folks to refer,” said Pruitt, a Tulsa Republican elected in 2010. “They'll know that they've got a partner in the AG's office — a partner in the sense that, if there is fraud, somebody's going to do something about it.”
He said he put a veteran prosecutor in charge of the attorney general's special unit that investigates and prosecutes workers' compensation fraud and insurance fraud. Pruitt said the unit's fraud prosecutions already are up more than 60 percent.
“We want all businesses to know, insurance companies to know, we're after systemic change and we believe prosecuting fraud leads to that kind of systemic change,” he said.
Pruitt is particularly proud of the successful prosecution in 2011 of two former Tulsa attorneys who committed workers' comp fraud and embezzled from clients. One of the former attorneys was sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay $702,813 in restitution.
“I'm very thankful that we were able to come in and send a message to the folks in the legal community that that doesn't need to occur in the future,” Pruitt said.
He said he wants to educate businesses, too, about what kind of information they can collect to help prosecutors. “We want them to know … we can prosecute fraud whether they settle a claim or not,” he said.
Many of the cases filed in the past have come from complaints made by insurance companies and insurance adjusters.