State authorities say they are investigating an insurance fraud scheme involving several suspects accused of dining at restaurants in Cobb and other counties then making false medical claims based on bogus food allergy treatments.
Two women have been arrested in relation to the case, led by special agents within the criminal investigations division of the Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner’s Office, records show.
Mikala Genea Flonnoy, 28, of Decatur, and Alicia Shelltree Nelson, 27, of Villa Rica, were booked into the Cobb County jail on April 21 and 23 respectively, each charged with felony counts of forgery in the first degree and insurance fraud, per their jail records.
Both Flonnoy and Nelson were released from jail after just a few hours, on bond orders of $5,000 and $7,500 respectively, records show.
“What started as an investigation into two subjects expanded into what was discovered to be a ring of individuals allegedly using the guise of a food allergy complaint at local restaurants throughout six Georgia counties to defraud medical insurance companies,” the state insurance commissioner’s office stated in a news release. “The individuals would state they ordered chicken dishes, but found shrimp in their food, leading to an allergic reaction. They would then file false insurance claims and submit false medical records and medical billing statements to obtain money from insurance companies for medical treatment that was not sought.”
Authorities claim medical records and billing statements were falsified and altered to reflect the name of the suspects, their date of birth, and multiple different medical facilities.
“Altogether, the suspects in this ring were paid nearly $25,000 for these alleged false claims,” said Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John F. King.
Per the commissioner’s office, insurance fraud is a felony punishable by imprisonment for two to 10 years, or by a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
Authorities allege Flonnoy committed felony insurance fraud and first degree forgery between April 10 and April 30 in 2018, at the location of Hooters on Cobb Parkway in Cumberland, per her April 21, 2020 arrest warrant.
Flonnoy submitted a claim to insurance firm Liberty Mutual that included false medical records and billing information, the warrant stated.
Nelson committed felony insurance fraud and first degree forgery between April 14 and May 1 in 2018, authorities allege, at the location of the Powers Ferry Business Park by EpiCity on Powers Ferry Road in Cumberland.
Per Nelson’s April 23, 2020 arrest warrant, she submitted a claim to Hanover Insurance that included false medical records and billing statements for false treatment at Grady Memorial Hospital, and she received $5,325 from the insurance firm.
Authorities allege co-defendant Demond Miguel Hewlett, of Atlanta, committed felony insurance fraud and first degree forgery between Oct. 5 and 31 in 2017, at the location of the Stoney River Steakhouse and Grill inside Cumberland Mall, per his March 9, 2020 arrest warrant.
Hewlett submitted a false claim to Liberty Mutual for medical treatment at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital, his warrant stated.
Another listed co-defendant, Ricardo Mondell Hamlin, of Stockbridge, is accused by authorities of committing felony insurance fraud and first degree forgery between July 9 and 30 in 2018 at the location of the Cook Out fast food restaurant on Chastain Road in Kennesaw, according to his March 9, 2020 arrest warrant.
Hamlin also submitted a false claim to Liberty Mutual for medical treatment at Kennestone Hospital, his warrant stated.
Both Hewlett and Hamlin were subject to $5,000 bond orders upon arrest, per their warrants, but have not been taken into custody at the Cobb jail, records show.