NewsCovering Kern County


Docs: Bakersfield company investigated by state for insurance fraud

Instituto Hispano Americano.png
Posted at 4:21 PM, Aug 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-01 19:21:52-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A Bakersfield vocational training business is being investigated by the California Department of Insurance for alleged workers' compensation fraud, according to court documents obtained by 23ABC News.

The court documents show the CDI is looking into the practices of Instituto Hispano Americano, located on Chester Avenue in Central Bakersfield.

A search warrant requested by the CDI shows multiple insurance companies contacted the department in 2018 over concerns of suspected fraud dating back to 2013.

One report, from Berkshire Hathaway Homestate Company, included as much as $248,600 in suspected fraud since 2013. The insurance company reached out to CDI in March of 2018 after suspicious arose about educational vouchers redeemed by Instituto Hispano Americano. BHHC told CDI they believed the services for the vouchers were not provided.

The education vouchers, according to the warrant, are from the California workers' compensation system known as Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit. The vouchers are used to pay as much as $6,000 for educational and retraining or skill enhancement for workers who are injured on the job, suffering a permanent partial disability, according to the court documents.

Insurance Company of the West, in May of 2018, also reached out to CDI to report suspected fraud related to Instituto Hispano Americano. The insurance company told investigators the business allowed ineligible students to enroll in a training program without passing a required exam.

According to the documents, when ICW requested the students' exam results, "[t]he results were on a non-descript [sic] letter, with basic typing and no letterhead. The score also appeared seemingly high at 118."

Results from four additional students were also forwarded showing "three out of the four claimants scored 118, and the fourth scored 123."

Another insurance company, Zenith Insurance, also reported suspected fraudulent test results from Instituto Hispano Americano.

A spokesperson for the California Department of Insurance told 23ABC News the department can neither confirm nor deny any ongoing investigation.

According to Instituto Hispano Americano's website, the company offers training in automotive mechanics and other computer and technical courses.

23ABC News has reached out to Instituto Hispano Americano for comment on the investigation, but a message left for the owners has not yet been answered.