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Fake pet claims land couple behind bars


Accountant Chelsea Stafford and her husband Stellio submitted nine claims on two pet insurance policies, collecting $12,970 dollars for their three sick Staffordshire bull terriers, according to British media reports.

Trouble soon followed because the couple actually only had one dog, Buster, who wasn't hurt or sick, and the other two dogs, Angel and Winston, were made up.

The couple said Buster had a fractured leg that caused him to get cancer and die. They said their other two dogs also contracted cancer. From December 2013 through May 2014, Ms. Stafford used her accounting skills — but apparently not her veterinary knowledge — to forge invoices from a local vet that detailed the dogs' illnesses and their treatment, reports said.

The couple also forged letters from the vet and sent them to Birmingham, England-based pet insurer MORE TH>N asking that the Staffords be reimbursed directly by the insurer.

Ms. Stafford cashed one of the checks and asked the insurer to send another, claiming she had lost the check and was afraid her twin sister would find it and cash it. She doesn't have a twin sister, reports said.

In April, 2014, MORE TH>N discovered the claims were fake and contacted London Police.

“Chelsea drew on her accountancy knowledge to produce authentic-looking invoices for veterinary treatment but their lack of simple medical knowledge contributed to their downfall,” said Paula Doyle, the City of London Police Detective Constable who ran the investigation.

The couple were sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to carry out a 180 hours of unpaid work. They will also have to pay back all of the money received from the insurer.

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