RIVERSIDE - When California Department of Insurance detectives viewed 22-year-old Shawna Lynn Palmer on YouTube, vying for a prize in a beauty contest, they immediately suspected workers' compensation fraud. The young woman can be seen walking comfortably and gracefully in high heels while at the same time collecting workers' compensation benefits for a toe injury she claimed left her unable to place any weight on her foot or wear a shoe for any length of time.
"This case must have been a breath of fresh air for insurance detectives," said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. "Our CSLEA members who investigate fraud for the California Department of Insurance typically have long, very complex cases. There wasn't even any need for surveillance when the suspect is on YouTube and Facebook, clearly able to compete in a competition."
The video evidence shows Palmer participating in the 2014 Miss Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix beauty contest.
Palmer worked as a clerk at Stater Brothers and on March 10, 2014 reported to her employer that she fractured a toe on her left foot at work. During multiple doctor visits, Palmer claimed that she could not move her foot in any direction. Palmers' doctor provided an ortho shoe, crutches, gave her orders to refrain from working and to elevate her foot whenever possible. Palmer stated that she was not able to work due to her foot injury and collected workers' compensation benefits.
While collecting those benefits, Palmer participated in at least two beauty contests wearing high heels and walking without any signs of discomfort. Video was posted on YouTube of Palmer as a contestant in the 2014 Miss Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix beauty contest.
If convicted, Palmer faces up to one year in county jail, three years of probation, and restitution of $24,000.