Women who conned nearly $1 million in ‘large scale’ fraud scheme caught after tweeting police: ‘Catch me if you can’
By James Nye DailyMail PUBLISHED: 8 July 2013
Caught: Wanda Lee Ann Podgurski, 60, is shown in this undated law enforcement handout photo from the San Diego County, District Attorney’s office. She had taunted authorities after she disappeared, including a tweet thought to be directed at D.A. Bonnie Dumanis
San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said Wanda Podgurski sent that taunting tweet after skipping bail in January while facing charges related to nearly $1 million of insurance fraud.
But then authorities did catch her.
Podgurski was sentenced in absentia last month to more than 20 years in prison and ordered to pay more than $1 million in fines and restitution.
Three weeks after her initial tweet on June 5, Podgurski’s feed read, ‘Help find me before I con anyone else.’ Two other posts were links to stories about her vanishing act.
Podgurski’s Twitter profile reads, ‘On the run possibly in Iran.’
Her account follows 32 people and agencies, many of them FBI branches and other law enforcement authorities.
Dumanis’ office said the district attorney was the only one Podgurski followed while on the run.
The district attorney’s office declined to say how authorities tracked down Podgurski, saying only that information from the Twitter account was turned over to its Computer and Technology Crime High-Tech Response Team, known by the acronym Catch.
‘The defendant in this case was brazen in both the large-scale fraud she committed and the way she mocked the criminal justice system,’ said Dumanis.
Taunt: A Tweet, from an account allegedly belonging to Wanda Lee Ann Podgurski, is shown in this undated law enforcement handout photo from the San Diego County, District Attorney’s office
‘Law enforcement, and in particular the U.S. Marshals and Fugitive Task Force, did a great job tracking the defendant down and taking her into custody.’
Podgurski’s attorney, Philip Kent Cohen, declined to comment.
The district attorney’s office said Podgurski received $664,555 in disability payments when she was charged.
She made claims with all six insurance companies after reporting that she fell at her home in August 2006, prosecutors said.
Podgurski, 60, was captured on the Fourth of July in Rosarito Beach, Mexico, a popular retirement spot for American expatriates only 15 miles south of San Diego
‘This type of fraud undermines critical services and care for disabled Californians, and victimizes taxpayers,’ stated State Controller and Franchise Tax Board Chair John Chiang.
‘I’m proud that our state tax investigators helped to end this costly criminal scheme.’
Private investigators working for the insurers reported seeing her walk stairs without assistance and drive to the store.
‘This was an extreme case, but any level of disability fraud ultimately increases insurance costs for everyone,’ said Dumanis.
‘Our Disability and Healthcare Insurance Fraud Program investigates and prosecutes fraudulent medical and disability claims and policies. In addition to holding defendants accountable for their crimes, we’re also protecting the public from rising healthcare costs due to fraud.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2358640/Women-conned-nearly-1-million-large-scale-fraud-scheme-caught-tweeting-police-Catch-can.html#ixzz2YWqWLxS1
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