New York Attorney Pleads Guilty in Trip-And-Fall Fraud Scheme

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The United States attorney for the southern district of New York, Damian Williams, made a public announcement. According to this, a New York-based lawyer, Marc Elefant, has pled guilty before the court of law for his involvement in the conspiracy of wire fraud in connection with a scheme to maliciously obtain millions of dollars in fraudulent insurance reimbursement and other fraudulent trip and fall accidents. 

Media reports have indicated that the case of Marc Elefant is not the first instance of conviction, but this is the third time a sentence of guilt has been made for involvement in fraudulent trip and fall accidents. The first defendant to plead guilty was Adrian Alexander, owner of a litigation funding company, and a New York-based licensed pain management doctor, Sady Ribeiro, who confessed involvement in the fraud. 

All three defendants have confessed they’re guilty before U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein.

In a media briefing, the U.S. attorney from the District of New York expressed his apprehension about the misuse of licenses by lawyers. He stated that an ethical code of conduct binds lawyers to use their profession for the protection of the legal rights of their respective clients. However, Marc Elefant violated his professional code of conduct by involving in a fraud scheme to steal over a million dollars from different businesses and insurance companies through trip and fall frauds. He also stated that the fraud schemes exploit people in need, and he is now waiting for the penalty for his involvement in a heinous crime. 

The fraud includes lawyers, doctors, and other medical professionals

The facts of the case reveal that the convicted lawyer and others were part of an extensive fraud scheme and used different techniques to defraud businesses and insurance companies. The most common method employed by the convict and other participants involves recruiting individuals from marginalized communities, such as homeless people.

These recruits were told to stage or claim false trip and fall accidents at some specific location within the jurisdiction of New York. 

Initially, the recruits were instructed to make false claims of trip and fall accidents. Later on, to make the suits more convincing, the lawyers urged the other perpetrators to require the recruits to stage trip and fall accidents. It means the recruit will go to a particular location and deliberately fall. As the victims are recruited from vulnerable communities, so they incur physical harm during the stage accidents. 

When the recruits stage trip and fall accidents, they were instructed to contact specific lawyers, including Elefant. These lawyers filed a lawsuit on behalf of the victim (recruits) against the owners of the accident sites. The case did not disclose any information about the deliberate fall or the false allegations, and the lawyers presented the claims as true. Once the trip and fall were proved in court, the court ordered a settlement amount, but the victim (recruit) did not receive any share, and the proceeds were distributed between the perpetrators, including the lawyers, law firms, etc. The wire fraud scheme of Elefant is reported to have defrauded insurance companies and owners of accident sites more than $31,000,000.

The patients who make false claims of trip and fall accidents or stage such accidents were instructed to contact a medical professional who is part of the scheme, such as Ribeiro. 

These medical professionals told the victims to undergo treatment to substantiate their false claims. Some patients were also advised to undergo surgery even though they did not need surgery. These individuals, who were desperate for money, were offered a payment between one thousand to fifteen hundred dollars for the surgery. These surgeries were conducted by medical professionals regardless of the legitimate medical needs of the patients. It reflects the gravity of the issue of how medical professionals violate their professional conduct and are involved in fraud for their selfish interests.

Once recruited, they were exploited to stage fall and trip accidents, and, in some cases, they suffered injuries. Similarly, individuals undergoing surgeries risk their lives for small post-surgery payments. 

The doctors and lawyers also engaged with this financier in the fraud. The lender provided funding to the recruits to pursue their claims, and in return, they were promised a specific percentage in the settlement award. 

The firm also paid the fraud scheme organizers and participants referral fees, typically $1,000 to $2,500 for each plaintiff who signed a funding agreement. 

Once the court of law decided the case and the settlement award was announced, the amount was distributed between the funder, lawyers, doctors, and other participants. 

The recruit who suffered physical injuries and underwent surgeries was left with nothing.

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