A Harrisburg area man is accused of collecting more than $70,000 in fraudulent insurance claims by saying his home flooded to the point he had to stay in a hotel. An investigation into the claims, however, proved the hotel fictitious and the claims a scam, according to the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General .
David Lee Stewart, 36, has been charged with insurance fraud, theft by deception and criminal attempt theft by deception in connection with claims he made while living at his rental property in the 3000 block of Green Street, according to charging documents.
Agents from the Insurance Fraud Section of the Attorney General’s Office say Stewart submitted fraudulent receipts and made false statements in an attempt to collect insurance proceeds from September 2011 to December 2014 through United Services Casualty Insurance Company. Stewart, who was not insured by the policy but lived at the property with his wife who was listed, made multiple property claims for basement floodings, agents say.
In a press release, the Attorney General’s Office said an initial claim Stewart filed in September 2011 stated that a large amount of property had been lost in the first flood, and the claim was followed by four payments by the company, which exhausted the the $30,800 policy limit.
In a second claim in February 2012, Stewart allegedly submitted a receipt showing he and his wife were forced to stay a dozen days at a $200-per-night bed and breakfast in the 300 block of South 18th Street in the city. Agents later discovered “Green’s Bed and Breakfast” did not exist at the location written on the receipt but that Stewart had accepted $33,200, which again exceeded the policy limits.
Agents say Stewart filed a third claim just more than two months later. In that claim, he said sewage had once again backed up into the basement of the Green Street home, which led him to ask for reimbursement from a stay at a “Green Suites” in the 1200 block of Rolleston Street.
The insurance company paid out about $10,037 on the claim, but a company representative later attempted to track down the address and discovered the address on the receipt led him to an annex building to the Trinity Lutheran Church.
The company finally denied a fourth claim filed by Stewart, which stated he needed reimbursement for ruined music equipment. The equipment, according to the claim, was purchased from “Steve’s Muzic” in the 600 block of South Paxton Street. The address was not valid, according to the company’s denial.
Despite the denial, Stewart collected a total of $74,037 from the insurance company, according to charging documents.
Agents met with the owners at each alleged location and found the properties had never existed as bed and breakfasts, hotels or music shops. The Green Street home owner also told agents she had evicted Stewart, his wife and her daughter from the residence in October 2012 for not paying rent. They later spent about six months renting from the pastor at the Rolleston Street address, agents learned.
Stewart is being held in Dauphin County Prison in lieu of $10,000 bail, according to online court records. He is scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 6 for a preliminary hearing.