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Beauty Contestant Busted for Fraud after YouTube Video


Privacy is fleeting these days. A Google search of almost anyone will yield at least a few results, in many cases from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. The widespread attention one Riverside beauty contestant received on YouTube would have probably been welcome had it not resulted in a year in county jail, three years probation, and $24,000 in restitution-if she’s convicted of Workers’ Compensation Fraud.

Last March, 22-year-old Shawna Lynn Palmer, a clerk for Stater Brothers, claimed to have fractured her toe, insisting she couldn’t put weight on her foot or wear a shoe. Not long after making these claims, and while collecting workers’ comp benefits, Palmer competed in the 2014 Miss Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix pageant. A YouTube video of the event shows her walking and standing in high heels without any indication of discomfort. A week later she was back at the doctor’s office with the same complaints of pain.

Investigators for the California Department of Insurance had little trouble finding the YouTube video of the aspiring beauty queen and she was arrested last Friday, reported

‘People might want to say …here’s a young lady who had beauty and … bravado in making these claims … but it really didn’t add up on the brains side of it,’ said Deputy Insurance Commissioner Byron Tucker.

While we’re glad Ms. Palmer didn’t get away with her scheme, we’d like to point out that revealing too much on social media can do more than expose a criminal; it could ruin an honest accident victim’s claim. As with this case, insurance companies have investigators monitoring the social media accounts of plaintiffs, looking for evidence that could contradict their claims of injury, disability, or suffering. That’s why in our office, we warn clients to keep their social media accounts private and to be careful about what they share.

What do you think of this case? How much do you normally reveal about yourself on social media?

Additional articles on the civil claims process after an accident are available to the public free of charge through our office. To request one, please call 888-752-7474.

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