A woman was charged with criminal attempt to commit theft by deception after she allegedly made false claims that her e-cigarette battery malfunctioned, announced Wednesday.
The charge against Breanne Court, comes after the office conducted an investigation into the claims to determine their legitimacy. The case was unusual because most fraudulent claims are made to insurance companies or the police, District Attorney Ann Targonski said.
Employees of Durasmoke, based in Milwaukee, notified the district attorney’s office in August of a call from a man from Sunbury. He claimed as he was charging his e-cigarette battery it exploded and caught fire, burning the floor of his apartment. The caller asked for a payment of $3,000 for damages.
A few weeks later, Durasmoke received a call from Court, who filed a similar complaint. She said her exploded battery burned the carpet of her rented home and claimed $4,500 in damages.
Durasmoke told the district attorney’s office that these were the only two complaints of this nature across the nation, and they were suspicious when they noticed both calls came from the same small city.
The district attorney’s office investigated and learned that Court lived with her parents and was not renting an apartment. Also, Court ultimately admitted that no such incident occurred and she decided to call Durasmoke after an acquaintance told her about the first incidence, the DA reported. Court was charged Aug. 25.
The case was unique in that Court did not file a false insurance claim and did not make a false report to police, both of which would constitute immediate crimes under the state crimes code.
An investigation into the first complaint was also initiated, but the evidence was insufficient to prove a crime had been committed, Targonski said.
“Fraudulent crimes of this type result in increased insurance rates for all private retail companies selling consumer goods across the nation,” she said.
Most people realize that filing a false insurance claim or false report with police is illegal, but some believe doing so with a private business is OK because these companies are realizing big profits, Targonski said. However, “Making a false report to any company to gain a financial reward is illegal,” she said.