Man gets 45 days for using fake cat for faulty insurance claim

TACOMA, Wash. -- A man accused of trying to scam his insurance company over a dead-cat claim has learned his fate.

Yevgeniy Samsonov has been sentenced to 45 days, 15 of which will be spent in custody and the remaining 30 under home monitoring.

Samsonov, who pleaded not guilty to trying to bilk his insurance company out of $20,000 by claiming his cat died in a car accident, must also pay fines.

Prosecutors say Samsonov 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 sought $20,000 in compensation.

Samsonov submitted photos of a cat, but an insurance representative found that the pictures had come from the Internet -- one of the photos was among the top image results for a Google search of the terms "white cat."

"Clearly he didn't think through how easy it would be to simply check the Internet and have the first two cats pop up that happen to be the photos that he sent in," said Assistant Attorney General Melanie Tratnik.

The attorney general's office says when first confronted with the evidence against him, Samsonov wasn't very cooperative.

"He made multiple denials and stories changed multiple times in terms of what actually happened," Tratnik said.

Samsonov faced up to a year behind bars.

These images, provided by the Washington state Office of the Insurance Commissioner, show a photo of a cat that was purportedly killed in a traffic accident sent to PEMCO insurance (left) and an identical photo found on the Internet (right).