Friday, January 13, 2006

Using High Tech to Combat Crop Insurance Fraud

An AP story (here) discusses the increasing use of satellite photographs of farms to investigate and prosecute crop insurance fraud schemes.  The satellite images can show the acreage planted, type of crops grown, and irrigation patterns that can show whether the crops were actually damaged by an event, such as a storm or drought, that would trigger payments under the federal crop insurance program.  The story discusses one case in North Carolina in which a farming couple had workers throw ice cubes on the crops and then beat them to simulate hail damage -- that must have been a nasty sight.  The husband was sentenced to a 76-month term of imprisonment and the wife to 65 months, plus an order to pay over $9 million in restitution.  Big brother is watching on the farm, on the highway, and just about everywhere else these days. (ph -- thanks to Delia Johnson for passing along the story)

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