97-88.2. Penalty for fraud.

(a) Any person who willfully makes a false statement or representation of a material fact for the purpose of obtaining or denying any benefit or payment, or assisting another to obtain or deny any benefit or payment under this Article, shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor if the amount at issue is less than one thousand dollars ($1,000). Violation of this section is a Class H felony if the amount at issue is one thousand dollars ($1,000) or more. The court may order restitution.

(a1) When a person is convicted under subsection (a) of this section, the Commission may enter such orders as necessary to ensure that the person convicted does not benefit from the unlawful conduct.

(b) The Commission shall:

(1) Perform investigations regarding all cases of suspected fraud and all violations related to workers' compensation claims, by or against insurers or self-funded employers, and refer possible criminal violations to the appropriate prosecutorial authorities;

(2) Conduct administrative violation proceedings; and

(3) Assess and collect civil penalties and restitution.

The Commission may employ sworn law enforcement officers duly appointed and certified through the North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission to conduct the investigations mandated by this subsection.

(c) Any person who threatens an employee with criminal prosecution under the provisions of subsection (a) of this section for the purpose of coercing or attempting to coerce the employee into agreeing to compensation or agreeing to forgo compensation under this Article shall be guilty of a Class H felony.

(d) The Commission shall not be liable in a civil action for any action made in good faith under this section, including the identification and referral of a person for investigation and prosecution for an alleged administrative violation or criminal offense. Any person, including, but not limited to, an attorney, an employee, an employer, an insurer, and an employee of an insurer, who in good faith comes forward with information under this section, shall not be liable in a civil action.

(e) The Commission shall report annually to the General Assembly on the number and disposition of investigations involving claimants, employers, insurance company officials, officials of third-party administrators, insurance agents, attorneys, health care providers, and vocational rehabilitation providers. (1993 (Reg. Sess., 1994), c. 679, s. 7.1; 1995, c. 507, s. 25(a); 1997-353, s. 1; 2005-448, s. 8; 2007-358, s. 1.)