Thousands of BP Claims to be Investigated and Prosecuted if Proven Fraudulent

In December 2013 British Petroleum (BP) sued Mikal Watts, a San Antonio attorney for filing more than 40,000 false claims against BP. Two years after, U.S. prosecutors in Mississippi unsealed an indictment of Watts and six others (one of them was his brother) on 95 counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, and identity theft all related to the more than 40,000 false claims.

One of the phony claims filed by Watts, which amounts to $45,930.00, was in behalf of a certain Lucy Lu, who Watts identified as a deckhand on a commercial seafood vessel. It was found out, however, that Lucy Lu was not a person, but a dog. Four other claims totaling to $183,720 was discovered to be named after four people who died before the 2010 oil spill.

Within a year after the April 2010 British Petroleum (BP) oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (considered the the worst oil spill in U.S. history), and after the British oil giant assured those affected of a settlement agreement which, basically, had no causation requirement for claims, people started coming forward talking of injuries and losses, especially those who owned businesses along and near the coast; many even said they had to close down the business due to bankruptcy. To pay all settlement claims, BP first made estimates amounting to more than $2 billion. A couple of years after, the estimated amount went up to more than $7 billion.

This last quarter of 2016, after already having paid $19 billion and with billions more to settle, BP is echoing its call of fraud on thousands of claims filed. In connection to this, a Wisconsin white collar crime lawyer says that investigation and prosecution of all meritorious reports of fraud (which includes fraudulent claims, identity theft, insurance fraud, charity fraud, and procurement and government-benefit fraud) has become high priority for the Department of Justice. Working together to handle fraudulent cases are the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, the United States Attorney’s Offices, and federal criminal investigative agencies, with assistance from the National Center for Disaster Fraud.

Some claimants, who have been contacted by investigators, have already been charged with fraud. Whether investigators are yet to contact you of have already charged you of fraud, it may be best that you take a number of precautions to protect yourself, regardless of the actual legitimacy of your claim.

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