An Alabama woman pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to leading a group that collected nearly $1 million in fraudulent oil spill claims from BP.
Crystal Lani Kitt could face up to twenty years in prison.
She headed a group that filed over 123 fraudulent claims with the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF), the court supervised program that handles settlements from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill.
Kitt’s group managed to collect $900,000 in claims from GCCF.
The group set up fake email accounts and submitted phony documents including employment letters and pay stubs.
Kitt admitted handling the fraudulent documentation on most of the bogus claims.
She took a cut of the payments and dispersed the rest to other members of the group.
Some of the claims identified Crys K Investments and the Gulf Coast Investment Group as damaged parties.
Neither business ever held a license in Alabama.
Kitt will be sentenced on November 14.
BP said that as of the end of July there had been 190 reported cases of fraud leading to criminal charges, with 160 of those cases resulting in criminal convictions.
The fraud cases together are worth more than $12.7 million.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected BP’s bid to stop paying compensation claims during a review of its settlement with certain businesses.
Under the current rules for the claims fund, BP must pay some companies economic damages regardless of whether the companies can prove the spill caused their losses.