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Three charged with fraud after Aviva investigation

“I don’t know what to write,” an undercover investigator who was pretending to have been involved but not injured in a car accident said.

“Well, I could help you with that,” chiropractor Edward Hayes, from Wellness Centres of Ontario in Toronto, replied. “I’m just going to say that you have your neck pains, your shoulder pains, neck strain. You can’t go back to work.”

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Aviva, which launched the investigation after a policyholder said they were facing pressure to lie about accident injuries, passed on a video and other findings to the Toronto police.

Hayes and clinic employee Michelle Osacenco have been charged with three counts of fraud under $5,000: two for the undercover investigators and one for the policyholder.

Osacenco was filmed telling investigators to sign treatment records in different coloured pens when they weren’t returning for subsequent visits. When one investigator said she didn’t know what to tell the doctor, Osacenco said, “Come on! Use your imagination.”

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Anna Kovtanuka, a paralegal working at nearby the Kovtman Law firm whom the undercover investigators also spoke with, was charged with two counts of fraud under $5,000 and one count of possession of property obtained by crime under $5,000.

“If you want to have a good settlement in a year from now,” Kovtanuka said in the footage, “you need to work on it. You have to go see doctors. I’ll do all the legal part.”

“These so-called professionals are supposed to look out for the best interest of accident victims–and allegedly, this has not been happening,” Aviva Canada president and CEO Greg Somerville said in a statement. “Fraud costs honest insurance customers approximately $130 per year in Ontario and we continue to make every effort to stop it.”

Hayes, Osacenco and Kovtanuka are scheduled to appear in court on March 17.