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OFF BEAT: San Diego County billboards warn would-be workers comp fraudsters


“Commit workers compensation fraud, get a new outfit” warns a new San Diego County District Attorney billboard campaign, with the new outfit being a prison jumpsuit.

Workers comp fraud costs California about $4 billion per year, so 65 billboards and transit shelter posters placed across the county aim to make people think twice about committing the crime, which takes on different forms, according to the office of District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis.

The fraud is committed by workers faking injuries, employers denying mandated benefits or failing to report accurate payroll data to illegally reduce their premiums, and by health care and legal providers billing for services they don’t provide.

The D.A.’s office estimates that 1 million sets of eyes will view its public awareness billboards and posters daily.

A grant from California’s Fraud Assessment Commission and the California Department of Insurance helped fund the program. But two companies, Lamar Advertising Co. and CBS Outdoor, also contributed by significantly reducing their rates, according to a D.A. statement.

“Public outreach remains one of the important components of a successful anti-fraud program,” according to the statement.

But no doubt, not everyone will heed the warning. In the past four? years the San Diego County D.A.’s office has won workers comp fraud convictions against 399 defendants, while 289 other cases remain under investigation.