Woman Sentenced for Bogus Airbag Claim
MOBILE, AL – The U.S. District Court sentenced a Mobile woman to 3 years of probation, 80 hours of community service, and a $1,000 fine for sending by mail a false claim for personal injuries and vehicle damage allegedly caused by defective Takata airbag inflators that sent shrapnel flying when they deployed.
According to court documents, Tracey Lanette Adams, 48, used pictures she obtained from the internet and altered medical records that she submitted by mail from Mobile to try to obtain over $13,000 from the Takata Individual Restitution Fund (TIRF). The TIRF was established in the Eastern of District of Michigan when Takata Corporation was sentenced for wire fraud. In February 2017, the Court there ordered that Takata Corporation pay $125,000,000.00 into a fund to compensate those injured or who would be injured by its defective airbag deflators. The Special Master appointed to administer the fund oversees the evaluation of claims seeking compensation.
Evaluators saw red flags as it considered Adams’s claim, including photographs Adams had altered from the internet that she said were of her and her injuries. When the TIRF denied her claim, she appealed and submitted once again the false documents and photographs. A face-to-face interview with the Mobile FBI confirmed that she was not the person in the photographs and had not suffered the serious facial injuries depicted. Adams did not receive any compensation.
“The Takata Individual Restitution Fund is for actual victims who suffered or will suffer injuries caused by their defective airbag inflators. This defendant wasted the valuable time of the evaluators that they could have spent considering claims of people who were actually injured by these defective products. And now she’s been convicted of a felony for it and will be under the watchful eyes of federal probation officers for 3 years,” U.S. Attorney Sean P. Costello remarked.
FBI Special Agent in Charge James Jewell stated, “The defendant in this particular case has no regard for the real victims and their injuries. Where there are large sums of money there will be fraud, and the men and women of the FBI stand ready to assist our partners in seeing the prosecution of these defendants carried out.” The FBI in the Eastern District of Michigan and in Mobile investigated the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Lankford prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.