I-Team: Woman claimed disability to get money

North Carolina woman appeared on game show "Price is Right" and seen spinning the Big Wheel.
May 5, 2014 8:26:27 PM PDT
Cathy Cashwell is a former mail carrier in Fayetteville who got federal disability benefits after claiming she was injured and couldn't work anymore lifting trays into mail trucks

But then a trip to Hollywood and an appearance on the game show "The Price is Right" showed something different. She was able to spin the "Big Wheel" twice.

"It is stunning. Uh, here was a person who claimed that she could not raise her arms above her head. Uh, here was a woman who claimed that she could not do the basic physical activities that, uh, folks most, folks do in their daily life, and here she was, in living color, spinning the wheel on The Price is Right," said U.S. Attorney Thomas Walker.

Federal investigators made more startling discoveries about Cashwell on Facebook. There were photos of her ziplining in the Caribbean and hang gliding.

"When people post and make admissions - and photographs of themselves - when those get posted online for the world to see, that can be a powerful tool for law enforcement," said Walker.

In court documents, federal investigators also say they watched Cashwell as she was moving into a new house on the coast - at Oak Island.

"The agent found her lifting furniture into her beach home. All of these things flew in the face of her claim of being totally disabled," said Walker.

The federal investigation led to criminal charges against Cashwell. She decided to plead guilty. Federal investigators say her trip to The Price is Right and her trip down a zipline helped save taxpayer dollars lost to disability fraud. 

"Fraud is a fancy word for telling a lie. It's stealing with a pencil, as opposed to stealing with a gun. She claimed she had certain disabilities, and we proved that those claims were not true," said Walker.

Cashwell was ordered to pay $30,000 in restitution after collecting $250,000 and she's on probation for three years.

In an email, she said she went on The Price is Right and went ziplining because they were "once in a lifetime opportunities."

She said she was still very much in pain and said many doctors over the years agreed she was too sick to work.

She said even though she entered a guilty plea, she "didn't lie and didn't deceive."


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