Williams Lake man fined after fraud discovered through Facebook

A Williams Lake man has been fined $2,000 and ordered to pay more than $18,000 in restitution in connection with an ICBC claim.

A Williams Lake man has been fined $2,000 and ordered to pay more than $18,000 in restitution after pleading guilty to fraud and obstruction of justice in connection with an ICBC claim.

In the early hours of New Year’s Eve 2009, Corbin Lewis Joseph rolled a vehicle on a rural road near Springhouse west of Williams Lake after drinking at a party. Three other people were in the vehicle, but everyone escaped serious injuries.

At the time, however, Joseph was prohibited from driving, so he talked a friend into reporting to ICBC that she had been driving the vehicle, so he would escape being charged.

Joseph’s claim was successful, and he was awarded a $18,350 pay out for his truck.

His success was short lived. When he began communicating his story on Facebook, relaying that he’d been drinking and driving, totalled his car and received a big pay out, it didn’t sit well with at least one person.

“Someone who was a friend of his on Facebook saw that he was bragging how he ripped us off and alerted us,” says MarK Jan Vrem, media contact for ICBC.

Investigators for ICBC normally use social media and online searches, but Vrem says he emphasizes that they are prohibited from posing as friends or friends of friends to get behind privacy laws.

“They can just access what anybody in the general public can access,” he explains.

In a press release, ICBC says when Joseph learned he was being investigated he tried to convince the woman to keep with the story that she was driving. He sent her phone texts and Facebook messages offering her considerable sums of money and legal assistance.

Instead she cooperated with the investigators, and eventually Joseph admitted his wrong doing.

Joseph was also handed down a three-month conditional sentence and put on six months probation by a Williams Lake Provincial Court judge.

Vrem says there’s only been two or three other cases in the last little while of Facebook being used to expose a false claim.

“The Facebook angle was unusual enough for us to put out a news release,” Vrem says.

He also points out if Joseph hadn’t been driving without a license, there wouldn’t have been such a big problem, but because he was driving in breach of his insurance, he did what he did.