||August 15, 2012
Carly Daniels did not know her employer was part of an industry known for fraud--until the FBI raided their offices. Although innocent, she is indicted, facing a long prison term, and worried about the future of her young son, a boy with "special needs."
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Excerpted from FBI interrogation:
They asked what documents she reviewed. She told them she followed a check list. She searched the documents she was given to find specific information, which she entered on the client data sheet on the computer. One of the agents pushed a paper in front of her. It was labeled Viator Checklist. Yes, that was the guide she used.
Price took over. “So you look at insurance policies, the insureds’ applications to Archer, and their medical records. Did you ever see someone diagnosed with a serious illness before he or she applied for insurance?”
“I’m not paid to look for that.”
“But you enter into the computer the date of diagnosis, isn’t that right?”
“And you enter the date the insurance policy was issued?” Carly nodded again. She couldn’t speak. She was beginning to see where this was going. It frightened her. One of the insureds applied for life insurance but did not tell the insurer the truth about medical history. And that someone sold the newly issued policy—with three inches of medical records to prove he or she was seriously ill.
“Ever heard of ‘clean-sheeting’?” Price asked.
Carly shook her head no.
“Are you sure?” Ruiz said, again in a demanding voice.
“Why would I have heard of it?”
“Because it is a money-maker for Archer and other companies. Don’t you read newspapers?”
Carly repeated that she never heard of clean-sheeting.
“Clean-sheeting is exactly what Agent Price described.” Ruiz said and nodded at Price to continue.
“Clean-sheeting is when a person is diagnosed with a serious illness before he applies for life insurance. The diagnosis is not disclosed on the application. He cleans up his health history in order for the insurer to think he is in excellent health.”
Ruiz picked up the description. “If the person doesn’t disclose the name of his treating physician, it prevents the insurance company from finding out the truth.”
It was Price’s turn again. “You admit you look for diagnosis, and for date of issue of the life insurance?”
“That’s what’s required. I do exactly as I’m instructed. It does mean I have to search through documents for the information. But I don’t take time to do anything else. I’m not supposed to because that would affect productivity. And I don’t think about what I’m doing. It’s automatic. If I took time to think about what I was entering into the computer, I wouldn’t get much done. And I usually process twenty or thirty applications a day.” Carly realized she was blabbing. She was
nervous and speaking too much, saying too much, speaking too fast. She had to calm down.
Ruiz’s voice slammed into her. “I believe you were aware. You didn’t want to rock any boat. You kept quiet. These documents were sent through the mail. That means we could have you for mail fraud. The payments to the people who clean-sheeted were made by wire. That’s wire fraud.”
Wolk's taut legal thriller powerfully depicts an innocent woman caught up in the machinery of the criminal justice system. Carly Daniels does data entry for Archer Life Settlements of Southern California. Despite her mostly clerical
duties, a federal investigation of Archer Life for insurance fraud catches her in its net. The company specialized in viatical settlements in which terminally ill people sold their life insurance policies for cash. The Justice Department
believes that Archer Life routinely bought policies it knew were fraudulent,
taken out by policyholders who had lied about serious pre-existing medical
conditions--a practice called clean-sheeting--before applying for coverage.
Daniels does her best to aid the probe, but is indicted anyway, and faces the
prospect of jail, which is especially disturbing given her son's Asperger
syndrome. The details of the alleged scheme are clearly conveyed, but the
book's real strength stems from its David vs. Goliath battle to avoid an unjust criminal conviction.
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