Speed Reads


Man behind dancing Kia hamster charged with insurance fraud


At the same time he was busting a move as one of the dancing hamsters in those bizarre Kia commercials, officials say 27-year-old Leroy Barnes was collecting disability insurance checks for thousands of dollars.

ABC7 Los Angeles reports that in June 2010, Barnes said he was hit by a piece of ceiling during a sound check. He began to collect disability and workers' compensation checks, earning more than $51,000 between September 2010 and September 2011. When Barnes wasn't portraying a hamster with sweet moves, he worked under various aliases as a backup dancer for Madonna, Chris Brown, and Kelly Rowland.

Byron Tucker with the California Department of Insurance knows that case sounds strange, but isn’t laughing. "This is actually a serious crime and is not funny," he said. "This type of fraud hurts everybody. Workers' compensation fraud in the state of California costs the system almost $400 million a year."

Barnes is expected in court on July 2. He could face six years in prison and $75,000 in fines if found guilty. In case you somehow blocked 2011 from your mind completely, watch one of the dancing hamster commercials below. --Catherine Garcia