CONCORD – Jacqueline Masse, 49, of Hampton, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for participating in a mail fraud scheme that targeted restaurants and insurance companies, United States Attorney Scott W. Murray announced today.
According to court documents and statements made in court, for nearly four years, Masse defrauded or attempted to defraud restaurants and insurance companies of nearly $400,000. Masse mailed letters to restaurants and food companies in which she falsely claimed that she (or another member of her family) became seriously ill after eating food served by the restaurants or packaged by the food companies. In some letters, Masse impersonated her children, claiming to have become seriously ill after eating food served by the restaurants or packaged by the food companies.
In each of the letters, Masse falsely stated that the purported letter-writer paid or borrowed money to pay their medical expenses because they did not have health insurance. The defendant demanded that the restaurant or food company reimburse the supposed letter-writer for their medical expenses and compensate them for their pain and suffering. None of this was true.
According to the court documents and statements made in court, to support each demand letter, Masse provided to the affected business and their insurance companies fraudulent medical records allegedly obtained from hospitals in New Hampshire and Massachusetts as false evidence of the fictitious illnesses. Masse stole, and later altered, some of the medical records from the client files of a law firm, where she worked as an office manager and paralegal. Masse also stole checks from the law firm, which she altered to support her fraudulent insurance claims.
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 either Masse’s home in Hampton or the homes of her children, who were unwitting participants in the scheme to defraud. To conceal her involvement in the fraud, Masse had her children deposit checks mailed to them into their personal bank accounts and then write Masse a check for the full amount of the payout.
Masse pleaded guilty on November 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 U.S. Attorney 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. I am grateful to the law enforcement investigators from the FBI and New Hampshire Insurance Department for their hard work in bringing her to justice.”
“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. The FBI would like to thank the New Hampshire Insurance Department for their great work and partnership on this investigation.”
“I want to commend the Insurance Fraud Unit at the Department for all of their hard work on this case,” said Insurance Commissioner Chris Nicolopoulos. “This fraud scheme harmed consumers, businesses, and insurance companies. Our highest priority is to protect these entities, and we are thankful to the United States Attorney’s Office and the FBI for partnering with us to combat insurance fraud in New Hampshire.”
This matter was investigated by the New Hampshire Insurance Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew T. Hunter and former AUSA Robert M. Kinsella.