In early July The Daily Weekly told you about 29-year-old Yevgeniy M. Samsonov, a Tacoma man facing charges of attempted theft and insurance fraud after lying about the death of his cat, which never existed. Samsonov was accused—and has now been convicted—of trying to swindle PEMCO Insurance out of $20,000 by filing a bogus claim, contending that his beloved feline (which, again, never existed—a totally fake cat) had been killed in a 2009 automobile accident. Authorities say they caught on to Samsonov's scheme when they discovered the photos he'd provided of his purported pet didn't match, and were actually just stock photos from the Internet.
But now there's more to the story. Representatives for the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner say this isn't the only fake-dead-animal claim Samsonov has been involved with. Rich Roesler, who handles public affairs for the Insurance Commissioner, says Samsonov tried the exact same scheme with a fictional dead parrot.
Last week, in an e-mail to the press trumpeting Samsonov's upcoming sentencing, Roesler divulged the new, parrot-related accusations against Samsonov. The trouble, yet again, was in providing a picture. Roesler writes: "After charges were filed at the request of state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler this summer, an insurance company contacted Kreidler's office to report that Mr. Samsonov had also filed a nearly identical $20,000 claim for a dead parrot. (The photo Samsonov submitted in his dead-parrot claim is apparently of a parakeet.)"
On Monday, Samsonov was sentenced to 45 days—15 in custody, 30 under home monitoring—for the cat fraud, the details of which bear repeating: In March 2009, Samsonov was involved in what charging documents call "a minor traffic collision" in Tacoma. PEMCO ended up paying Samsonov $3,452.28 as part of a related claim, under the condition that he not file any additional claims.
However, Samsonov did so in October 2011, claiming that his cat—white with blue eyes, and described in a letter as "like a son" to Samsonov—had been killed in the accident. Samsonov's letter to PEMCO, which included a photograph of the cat in question, sought $20,000 from the insurance company.
Not surprisingly, PEMCO wasn't about to cut a check for $20,000 without doing a little research. And according to charging documents, it didn't take long for investigators to determine something was amiss. Conducting a run-of-the-mill Google image search, investigators determined that the cat pictures—Samsonov sent the company a second photo at its request—actually originated from the Internet. Searching for white cats with blue eyes, the two images Samsonov had submitted to PEMCO both came up. Investigators were able to determine that the pictured cats were actually two different cats and, more important, that Samsonov owned neither animal.
PEMCO of course denied the claim. The charges against Samsonov soon followed.