CONCORD — A Hampton woman has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for mail fraud, after sending 12 letters demanding nearly $400,000 in compensation from restaurants and food companies after producing fake medical records saying she became seriously ill after eating their food.
According to court documents and statements, Jacqueline Masse, 49, of Hampton sent letters to restaurants and food companies falsely claiming she or a family member became seriously ill after eating their foods. In other letters mailed to restaurants and food companies, she assumed the identity of family members and falsely claimed they had also become ill.
Court documents list the 12 restaurants and food companies as Churrascaria Aveirense, Fig and Olive, New England Natural Bakers, Alejandro’s Taqueria, Kroger Foods, Chicken and Rice Guys, Clif Bar Company and Seggiano USA.
In each of the 12 letters, Masse claimed the letter’s writer had paid or borrowed money to pay hospital bills and other medical expenses incurred to treat an illness because they did not have personal health insurance, according to U.S. Attorney Scott Murray. Each letter demanded the affected restaurant or food company reimburse the writer for medical expenses and provide financial compensation for pain and suffering.
According to court documents and statements made in court, to back up claims made in each demand letter Masse provided fraudulent medical records allegedly obtained from hospitals in New Hampshire and Massachusetts as false evidence of the fictitious illnesses.
She used fraudulent bank account and credit card statements as false evidence that the writer had dined at the affected restaurant or bought food packaged by the affected food company. Masse also used fraudulent invoices from hospitals and an ambulance company as false evidence of medical expenses.
In correspondence with the insurance carriers, Masse demanded payments totaling more than $399,000. Some of the insurance companies responded by mailing insurance settlement checks totaling more than $206,000 to Masse’s home in Hampton and homes associated with her family members (who were unwitting participants in the scheme, authorities said).
Masse pleaded guilty on Nov. 14, 2019. In addition to her prison sentence, she was ordered to pay $206,609.19 in restitution.
“White collar criminals cause real harm to businesses, as well as the general public,’” said Murray. “They steal money through lies and deceit, driving up costs for everyone. This defendant’s cynical scheme stole hundreds of thousands of dollars by falsely claiming that she and her family members became ill from consuming food at restaurants.”
“In an appalling scheme, Jacqueline Masse stole the identities of innocent family members to defraud restaurants, food companies, and their insurers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by falsely claiming on a dozen occasions that she or a loved one had suffered food poisoning,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “Every policyholder who has felt the financial impact of rising insurance premiums resulting from fraud should find some level of satisfaction in today’s sentence.”