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South Carolina driver inflates injury claim from phantom crash

December 13, 2018, Sumter, SC — A Sumter woman was sentenced to 18 months of probation after she pleaded guilty to inflating a medical bill in a personal injury claim for a wreck that never happened.

Kayla B. Payne, 26, entered a guilty plea on Dec. 5 for one count of making a false statement in the amount of $1,000 or more on Nov. 8, according to the S.C. Attorney General's Office.

Judge R. Ferrell Cothran accepted the plea and set a three-year sentence, which will be suspended to 18 months of probation, according to a news release.

As a part of her probation, Payne must repay $800 in restitution to USAA, which could mark the end of her probation period.

The investigation into Payne's actions began after she made a fraudulent personal injury claim in the amount of $8,608.50 to USAA after a reported hit-and-run near Lakewood High School on Sept. 22.

According to the release, Payne, the owner and driver of the vehicle, reported the wreck with two others, Davon Francis and D'Aundre Wilson.

After the claim was flagged as suspicious, USAA's investigation revealed that a fraudulent medical bill, which was changed to self-pay, had been presented.

Payne's original hospital bill was in the amount of $4,405.

The insurance company only paid out $800 for damage to the car before realizing the whole claim was fraudulent, according to the release.

A SLED investigation revealed the hit-and-run was staged and set up by a co-defendant and suspected ringleader, Gregory Vaughn.

Payne admitted the wreck was intentional and that she gave her hospital bills to Vaughn so he could alter them, according to the release.

"Our insurance fraud team has been doing a great job bringing to justice people who are guilty of trying to cheat the system," Attorney General Alan Wilson said. "People who commit this kind of fraud may think it's a victimless crime that hurts only big companies that can afford it, but insurance fraud costs all of us in higher rates."

Wilson emphasized other defendants in the investigation are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The cases were investigated by SLED and prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General LaRone Washington and Ruston Neely.

Source: The Sumter Item

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