Man who played Kia dancing hamster accused of disability fraud

Carlos Granda Image
Friday, June 6, 2014
EMBED <>More Videos

One of the 'dancing hamsters' in a popular Kia commercial is being accused of disability insurance fraud.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- One of the "dancing hamsters" in a popular Kia commercial has been arrested. Investigators say a man who played one of the hamsters was able to do the difficult dance moves while collecting disability insurance.

"Obviously, he was not injured," said Byron Tucker with the California Department of Insurance.

Leroy Barnes, 27, was arrested on charges of insurance fraud. In June 2010, Barnes claimed he was injured on a soundstage when he was hit by a piece of ceiling that fell on him during a sound check.

Officials say he then lied about working while collecting disability and workers' compensation. Barnes received benefits between September 2010 and September 2011, totaling more than $51,000.

"He had various aliases that he was using. During this time, he was also performing as a backup dancer for Chris Brown, Kelly Rowland, Madonna, and collecting a paycheck for those jobs," said Tucker.

The state says at the same time Barnes also performed in a rap group called The Rej3ctz, under the alias MoWii.

"This is actually a serious crime and is not funny. This type of fraud hurts everybody. Workers' compensation fraud in the state of California costs the system almost $400 million a year," said Tucker.

Eyewitness News was not able to contact Barnes for comment.

He faces six years in state prison and $75,000 in fines if convicted. He is scheduled to be back in court on July 2.