Happy Valley Woman Sentenced for Insurance Fraud
PORTLAND, OR—The former owner of a local auto business was sentenced yesterday to 51 months in prison for a scheme that defrauded two insurance companies and netted her $200,000. Lisa Ephrem, 40, of Happy Valley, pleaded guilty in February to mail fraud and aggravated identity theft.
Beginning in 2011, Ephrem obtained group life insurance policies for fictitious employees of her wholesale automobile business, Carr City, located in Portland, Oregon. Ephrem provided false information to the insurance company victims—Standard Insurance Company and LifeMap Assurance Company—claiming that certain people were employees, when in fact they were not. Shortly after the issuance of the policies, Ephrem submitted life insurance claims for the death of six purported employees. Between January 2012, and May 2012, Ephrem submitted eight life insurance claims to Standard and LifeMap totaling $660,000. Standard and LifeMap each paid $100,000 for the death of one purported employee, but denied subsequent claims.
Standard and LifeMap conducted internal investigations and determined that Ephrem had lied (the people were real, and had in fact died, but had not been Carr City employees), and contacted federal investigators. Despite the results of Standard’s and LifeMap’s internal investigations that determined Ephrem’s claims were fraudulent, Ephrem persisted and filed civil lawsuits against both insurance companies seeking payment for the claims. Those lawsuits were eventually dismissed, but cost Standard and Lifemap more than $150,000 in costs and attorney fees.
In sentencing Ephrem to the high end of the sentencing guideline range, U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman noted Ephrem’s extensive criminal history which included bank fraud, and told her she was a grown woman who had “free rein” with her criminal tendencies. He also ordered Ephrem to pay more than $280,000 to Standard and LifeMap for restitution.
Ephrem was ordered to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons by December 17, 2015.
The case was investigated by the FBI and the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General. The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Helen Cooper as part of a partnership venture between the Seattle Region, SSA Office of the General Counsel and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Portland, Oregon.