Sandpoint man uses stock internet photos in filing damage claim

Jesse James Bennett, Sandpoint, was sentenced Monday for insurance fraud after using stock internet photos of roof damage to file an insurance claim for damage he claimed occurred in a 2017 windstorm..

On February 12, 2018, Bennett filed an insurance claim for damage done to his roof. He reported that on December 21, 2017, a wind event resulted in fallen tree branches and debris causing damage to his roof and ceiling, submitting photos to his insurance company.

Idaho Department of Insurance investigators discovered metadata on the photos indicating that some of them were stock photos taken from the internet that pre-dated the date the damage was reported. When confronted with this evidence, Bennett admitted the damage was caused intentionally and not by the wind event.

“Insurance fraud is a felony and major contributor to rising premiums for Idaho consumers,” said Director Dean Cameron. “I’m proud of the DOI Investigation’s Division for their diligence and follow up on this case.”

First District Court Judge Barbara Buchanan withheld judgment and sentenced Mr. Bennett to two years of felony probation, ten days in the county’s inmate labor program, 30 days of discretionary jail time, 100 hours of community service and a $300 fine plus court costs.

In addition, Mr. Bennett is required to pay restitution to the insurance company in the amount of $5,979 and $1,231 to the Idaho Department of Insurance. The Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Unit prosecuted the case and the Idaho Department of Insurance investigated.