Handcuffs on wooden table

A Morganton woman has been accused of turning in a fake invoice in an insurance claim.

Tessa Mary Houck, 47, of 3496 N.C. 18 South in Morganton, was charged with felony counts of insurance fraud and attempting to obtain property by false pretense, according to a release from the North Carolina Department of Insurance. Special agents with the Department of Insurance’s criminal investigations division, along with Burke County Sheriff’s Office deputies, arrested Houck on May 16. She was released on a written promise to appear in court.

Houck is accused of providing a fake invoice to Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. in an attempt to get a $980 insurance settlement after a car damaged a fence on her property, the release said. The offenses occurred between Feb. 12 and May 15, the release said.

North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey estimates fraud costs North Carolinians between 15 and 20 cents on every dollar paid on insurance premiums, the release said.

"Insurance fraud affects our economy. Not only does it damage insurance companies, it cheats businesses and consumers too," Causey said. "This kind of white-collar crime is unacceptable. That's why I've doubled the number of Special Agents to investigate insurance fraud. Cracking down on fraud will put more money in the pockets of businesses and consumers.”

To report suspected fraud, contact the N.C. Department of Insurance Criminal Investigations Division at 919-807-6840. Callers can remain anonymous, the release said. Information is also available at www.ncdoi.com.



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