"Thanks to the superior work of California Department of Insurance investigators and aggressive prosecution by the District Attorney's office, the Woodward's property and other assets were seized and sold so we could provide at least partial restitution to the seniors and families ripped off by the Woodwards." - Dave Jones, California Insurance Commissioner
It was a health insurance scam that ripped-off senior citizens in 10 states to the tune of $6 million. The married couple found guilty are now paying the price and victims in California are starting to see restitution.
Michael Woodward, 50 was sentenced on August 8, 3013 to 11 years in state prison and his wife Melissa Woodward, 47, was placed on probation. Both were ordered to pay more than $3 million dollars in restitution to their victims. At the time of their arrest, many of their assets, including two homes in Las Vegas, jewelry, sports memorabilia, art work and bank accounts, were frozen.
On March 26, 2014, the San Diego County District attorney announced the distribution of more than $832,000 in restitution funds to hundreds of California seniors who were scammed by the Woodwards. The disbursement of restitution in this case was the second round of checks sent out by the District Attorney's Office, bringing the total amount of restitution payments made to more than $1.5 million dollars.
The Woodwards operated a fake insurance company offering in-home care service to the elderly. Investigators determined the Woodwards scammed 230 San Diego area senior citizens out of nearly $2 million. The Woodwards sold fraudulent in-home, non-medical senior service contracts for things like cooking, cleaning, bathing, dressing, laundry and shopping and then failed to provide the services promised. Inexpensive claims such as requests for housecleaning were often paid, but when victims made claims that were more expensive, the Woodwards rejected those claims. In some cases, they also returned to victims' homes to collect additional premiums that were well beyond the original cost of the plan.
"California Department of Insurance (CDI) investigators led the way in what was a lengthy and complex investigation," said Alan Barcelona, president of the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA). CSLEA's members include 7,000 law enforcement, public safety and consumer protection professionals who work for the state of California, including CDI investigators. "Preying on the elderly, taking their money and stealing their peace of mind, is unconscionable. All of the investigators who worked this case deserve a huge thank you.
On September 26, 2013, the District Attorney’s Office mailed out more than $595,000 in restitution to 270 victims statewide. These funds were the contents of bank accounts seized from the defendants. Another $169,000 of bank funds that was owed to the estates of deceased victims was held back from distribution until executors or trustees could be located.
Over the past several months, a court-appointed receiver arranged for the Woodward's assets, various items of personal property, to be put up for auction and for the real estate to be put on the market. When potential buyers were located, approval of the sale was acquired from the sentencing judge. Upon request, members of the Nevada Attorney General’s Office initiated proceedings in Nevada state court to have the California orders approved in Nevada. This saved considerable restitution funds that would have otherwise been spent on legal fees in Nevada. Those Nevada proceedings were successfully completed a short time ago and the sale was finalized.
While property was being liquidated, District Attorney and Department of Insurance employees were tasked with tracking down victims whose checks were returned as “undeliverable,” as well as identifying executors or trustees of estates of victims who had died prior to receiving restitution. That process has now been completed, clearing the way for the disbursement of all remaining funds in the possession of the District Attorney’s Office. In total, the exact figure for restitution disbursed in this case is $1,598,027.