Fort Lauderdale Man Arrested For Workers’ Compensation Scam
The pervasive and unjust business model that has a stronghold in South Florida has the Broward and Palm Beach County investigative task forces uncovering “cheat to compete” workers’ compensation fraud schemes. In a recent arrest, a 26-year-old man was accused of collecting fees to help construction subcontractors illegally circumvent workers compensation insurance requirements. This creates an opportunity for a Fort Lauderdale Workers’ Compensation Lawyer to point out the distinctions of why this not a good business model.
How the Fraud Works.
For a small percentage of the workers’ already undercut wages, fraudsters accept a fee for setting up a shell company. Under this sham, subcontractors could appear to have their insurance requirements in place for the purpose of pursuing contracting bids in the state. First, this means no money will be going to pay for workers’ compensation insurance. Second, this establishes off-the-books wages to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. Third, in the bidding process, the shell company nearly always wins the contract because they are not constrained by such details as minimum-wage laws, overtime pay, medical benefits, retirement savings and other benefits.
The Repercussions of Workers’ Compensation Fraud.
The Fort Lauderdale Workers’ Compensation Lawyer is well-aware of the impact this fraud has on the state’s workers. A shell company that is not going to pay the minimum wage is also not going to be concerned with worker safety. If there are no requirements on them to uphold the basic minimum safety practices, workers are at risk for injury. While they may agree up front to pay medical bills in the event of an accident or injury, they typically renege on that deal leaving workers in the lurch for medical expenses and lost wages. Without the proper protections in place, workers are on their own without any recourse available to them through the job.
Impact on the State. Beyond the personal injury that frequently occurs for workers who have no protections under such schemes, the state’s economy is unable to rebound while wages and benefits continue to be depressed. Further, it prevents law-abiding contractors from making a living when they are not able to win a contract bid by being honest. It is a bigger question as to whether the construction is being performed to code. Many workers are at a loss as to where to turn for relief. If you or someone you know have been in a similar legal situation contact our firm at the Law Offices of Evan M. Ostfeld, P.A. for a consultation with a Fort Lauderdale Workers’ Compensation Lawyer.