Sunday, July 21, 2013
A New York woman used fake hospital records to pose as a Boston Marathon bombing victim with a brain injury and fraudulently collected nearly half a million dollars from the fund for victims, Massachusetts authorities said Friday.
Audrea Gause, 26, of Troy, N.Y., was arrested there Friday on a Massachusetts fugitive warrant charging her with larceny, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said.
Gause submitted a claim to the fund last month, including several pages of false medical records indicating she was treated at hospitals in Boston and in New York for a traumatic brain injury suffered in the bombings, Coakley said. She received a $480,000 check from the fund, created to help victims of the April 15 attacks that killed three people and wounded more than 260.
Coakley said the claim alleged that Gause sustained a brain injury from the bombing and experienced long-term memory loss, impaired speech, and loss of some motor function that would require future surgery. Based on the information, Gause's claim was approved for payment.
Coakley said authorities got a tip last week that Gause may not have been in Boston on the day of the marathon, and the hospitals later said they didn't treat her.
"There is no evidence that Ms. Gause was an actual victim of the bombing," Coakley said at a news conference.
It wasn't immediately clear whether Gause had an attorney. Calls to phone numbers under her name in Troy were not answered.
Coakley said Gause will be arraigned on the fugitive warrant in New York and will be brought to Boston if she waives extradition. Coakley said she will face a charge of larceny over $250.
Coakley said investigators are making every effort to secure the money given to Gause. Coakley said she believes the money will be returned to be distributed to victims.
Coakley said Gause's arrest stemmed from a tip from someone who appeared knowledgeable about the alleged scam. She also said the investigation in ongoing and there are indications that "one or two other individuals" may have been involved.
Coakley also credited fund administrators with doing their best to vet claims.
"They have been diligent," she said.
The fund was created after the bombing and has collected more than $64 million for victims, many of whom lost limbs.
It's the second allegation of a false One Fund claim.
This month, a Boston man pleaded not guilty to making a fake claim of nearly $2.2 million to compensation fund.
Branden Mattier, 22, was arraigned on charges of attempted larceny and identity theft. Bail was set at $30,000, with the conditions that he surrender his passport and undergo GPS monitoring.
Prosecutor Gina Masotta said Mattier claimed to the fund that his long-dead aunt lost her legs in the attacks. Mattier was arrested when he accepted a fake check from an undercover state trooper.
As a result of the alleged fraud attempts, Coakley said her office is conducting an independent verification of all the money distributed to bombing victims through the fund. She called attempts to defraud the fund "outrageous."