New York state officials on Wednesday announced the arrest of a Staten Island man who allegedly submitted fake COVID-19 tests for months to earn more than $1,700 in worker compensation benefits.
New York State Inspector General Lucy Lang said 23-year-old Ajani Shaw "falsified multiple COVID-19 test results over five consecutive months in 2020 to obtain workers' compensation benefit" in a Wednesday press release.
Shaw was arraigned on multiple felony counts, including insurance fraud and worker's compensation fraudulent practices.
"Workers' Compensation insurance is essential to the success of our state's workforce and businesses, and all the more so during times of crisis," Lang said in a statement. "Thanks to our partners at the Staten Island District Attorney's Office for helping ensure the integrity of this vital safety net."
Fraud has become a concern for states during the pandemic, with officials primarily cracking down on fraudulent unemployment claims. Michigan, for example, has paid up to $8.5 billion in false unemployment insurance claims during the pandemic.
In April 2020, Shaw was working as a part-time employee in the kitchen at Seaview Nursing Home in Staten Island when he filed a worker's compensation claim for COVID-19 exposure.
Shaw obtained a doctor's note and a COVID-19 positive test. He extended his time period out of work with fake COVID-19 tests until July 24, when the insurance carrier noticed Shaw was using the same specimen identification.
According to the inspector general's office, Shaw submitted two real COVID-19 tests in April, but followed with six fake ones until he was caught. He was receiving $150 per week in benefits.