Yevgeniy Samsonov, 29, of Tacoma was involved in a minor traffic accident in 2009, and the other driver's insurer paid some $3,500 to cover chiropractic treatment. More than two years later, Samsonov claimed that his cat Tom had been killed in the accident and he sought $20,000 in compensation.
Samsonov submitted photos of a cat, but an insurance representative found that the pictures had come from the Internet. On Thursday, The Associated Press found that one of the photos was the top image on Google for the search "white cat" and that the image is featured on the Wikipedia page dedicated to cats.
"We've handled some pretty unusual fraud cases, but this is one of the stranger ones," said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler.
Samsonov does not have a listed phone number and does not have an attorney in court documents.
The insurance company, PEMCO, had initially sent Samsonov a $50 check to compensate him for the cat. Samsonov claimed that he'd paid $1,000 for the cat and that it had been like a son to him.
After finding the images online, PEMCO canceled the $50 check and forwarded the case to investigators.
Officials described the initial car accident as minor, saying that the driver behind Samsonov was stopped at a traffic light behind him when her foot slipped off the brake. The insurance commissioner's office said damage to both vehicles was "very minor."