A Jackson, Mississippi woman has been indicted in connection with stealing more than $28,000 and the identities of four victims of the 2018 Merrimack Valley gas explosions, while she worked as an insurance adjuster, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
Lashaunda Studaway was arraigned Thursday in Essex Superior Court on the charges of Identity Fraud (4 counts) and Larceny over $1,200 (2 counts). She is due back in court on December 16 for a pre-trial hearing.
Between October 2018 and December 2018, Studaway worked as an insurance adjuster on behalf of Columbia Gas. In that role she was responsible for handling the financial claims from residents impacted by the September 2018 gas explosions in the Merrimack Valley that devastated the region, resulting in thousands of dollars in property damage and leaving thousands of residents and businesses without heat and hot water in the cold winter months.
The AG’s Office alleges that Studaway stole $28,971 and the identities of four claimants impacted by the explosion by dispersing pre-paid debit cards – that were supposed to go to claimants – to herself. Studaway would either submit false claims under a real claimant’s file or create a file using a fictitious person’s name.
AG Healey’s Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division works to protect consumers and the integrity of the insurance system by investigating and prosecuting those who commit fraud against all types of insurers.
To report insurance fraud, call the EOLWD/DUA’s Fraud Hotline at 1-800-354-9927 or visit: www.mass.gov/lwd/ui-fraud anytime, 24 hours a day. Callers may remain anonymous.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General William Aiello of AG Healey’s Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division with assistance from Director of Financial Investigations Sallyann Nelligan of the AG’s Financial Investigations Division and Victim Witness Advocate Amber Cary of the AG’s Victim Witness Services Division, Massachusetts State Police assigned to the AG’s Office, and from investigators at the Massachusetts Insurance Fraud Bureau.