Hampton woman gets 18 months in sophisticated food poisoning fraud case

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CONCORD - A Hampton woman was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for participating in a mail fraud scheme that targeted restaurants and insurance companies, the U.S. Attorneys Office announced today.

According to court documents and statements made in court, for nearly four years, Jacqueline Masse, 49, 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 Nov 14. In addition to her prison sentence, she was ordered to pay $206,609.19 in restitution.

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