A man in Tacoma, Washington, has been charged with insurance fraud after attempting to claim $20,000 for the death of a cat that never existed.
Yevgeniy Samsonov, 29, invented a cat that he then said had been killed in a car accident, according to a news release from the office of Washington State's Insurance Commissioner.
The car accident was real enough: in March 2009, another car bumped into Samsonov's vehicle at a traffic light. Charging documents posted by the Seattle Weekly state that he successfully filed a claim with the other driver's insurer for his own injuries – and, then, more than two years later, decided to mention the cat.
It seems the insurance company, PEMCO, took the claim seriously enough to send Samsonov a check for $50; but that wasn't enough.
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"Given the intense sentimental value of the cat, he wanted $20,000," a spokesman for state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler told the Seattle Times.
The cat was called Tom, Samsonov said. He'd paid $1,000 for it, he said. It had been "like a son to him," he said. It was a beautiful white long-hair with blue eyes, he said – look, here were the photos to prove it.
Something about all this (a cat "like a son"? Really?) raised suspicions at PEMCO headquarters, and an investigator began looking into the affair.
It didn't take long to expose the fraud. A rudimentary internet search turned up the same two pictures Samsonov claimed were of "Tom," which were actually of two different cats, neither of them belonging to Samsonov.
According to the Associated Press, one of the photos was the first Google Image result for the search "white cat." It even illustrates the Wikipedia entry for "Cat."
PEMCO has since cancelled its $50 check, and Samsonov faces charges of first-degree attempted theft and felony insurance fraud.