Indictment in BP claims scam reads like a movie - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Indictment in BP claims scam reads like a movie

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

The federal indictment of seven people accused of defrauding the BP claims process includes evidence that reads like a script from a movie.

Fraud, conspiracy, dead people and a dog filing for a piece of billions in BP money. Those are all allegations spelled out in Thursday's 95 count indictment.

Prosecutors call it the biggest BP disaster identity theft case to date.

Thursday’s indictment focused on Texas attorney Mikal Watts plus six others and lays out an elaborate conspiracy to defraud BP of more than $2 billion after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on April 20, 2010.

Prosecutors note one email from David Watts, the brother of Mikal Watts, questioning Social Security records and birth dates of clients saying, “This does not pass the smell test?”

The indictment alleges among the more than 40,000 client claims submitted, one was for Lucy Lu who turned out to be a dog. Five other names submitted had died before the 2010 oil spill.

Prosecutors say that elicited a string of emails calling the 40,000 clients “ghosts in the wind.”

Another description outlined in the indictment described the situation as “a ‘king has no clothes cluster (expletive) that needs to be dealt with."

Prosecutors say Watts knew the claims were not legitimate with emails like this, “Damn. This is really starting to suck.”

The government says the fraudulent claims indicated the clients worked on commercial fishing vessels.

The indictment records an email from Mikal Watts on March 2, 2012, that refers to the “so-called seafood claims,” and writes, “Importantly, BP pays the $2.3 billion whether the proof supports it or not. It does not.“

Each of the defendants who pleaded not guilty in court are free on a $25,000 appearance bond.

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