Thursday, June 20, 2013

Spokane man's own smartphone is a witness against him in insurance-fraud case

Last summer, a Spokane man named Bryan Gilbert Robb filed an insurance claim, saying that his home had been burglarized. The police report listed an $800 loss.

Robb's claim, however, totaled $26,569, most of it from computers, games and DVDs. He included several photographs of the items that he said had been stolen.

Digital cameras and smartphones typically record the date and time that an image is taken, with what device, etc. This information, which is embedded in the photo file, is called metadata.

The problem: The metadata for 7 of the 9 photos submitted by Robb showed that the images were taken after the burglary date.

Robb's company, Assurant, denied the claim and turned it over to our Special Investigations Unit, which found a very similar 2004 burglary claim at Mr. Robb's previous address. That claim reported the loss of almost identical computers, a game console and DVDs.

Robb was charged June 14 in Spokane County Superior Court with one count of felony insurance fraud and one count of second-degree attempted theft. Arraignment is set for July 1.

To report insurance fraud or insurance scams here in Washington state, here's how to reach us.