CFO Jeff Atwater Announces Three More PIP Fraud Arrests and a PIP Fraud Conviction
Contact: Chris Cate
TALLAHASSEE – Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater today announced the arrests of three individuals in Fort Lauderdale for their involvement in a staged accident that resulted in fraudulent Personal Injury Protection (PIP) billings in excess of $80,000. He also announced the conviction of David Torres, a recruiter for Indian Rehabilitation Center in Jacksonville, on eight counts of participating in staged accidents.
“PIP fraud schemes drive up auto insurance rates for all Floridians, which is why we are working day and night to prevent it from happening in the future and hold the fraudsters who have broken the law accountable," said CFO Atwater. "I applaud our investigators for their diligence in bringing these fraudsters to justice.”
An investigation by the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud discovered that a U-Haul truck that supposedly crashed into a parked Dodge Caravan with eight passengers was in fact a staged accident. The occupants of the caravan filed fraudulent claims in excess of $80,000 from multiple clinics in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Claudio Boyett, Leslie Sanchez Martinez and Claudia Hoy have all been charged with insurance fraud, and more arrests resulting from this incident are expected.
Torres helped arrange staged accidents and subsequently file fraudulent PIP claims for the participants through Indian Rehabilitation Center to their insurance providers. He has been ordered to pay more than $109,000 in restitution to eight victim insurance companies. He was also sentenced to five years in the Florida State Prison system. Since his arrest, he has been cooperating with law enforcement, which has led to additional arrests and convictions.
Since January 2011, the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud has made nearly 2,000 PIP fraud arrests. Insurance fraud convictions for the current fiscal year total 1,225, a 17 percent increase over the previous year.
Anyone with information of suspected insurance fraud is asked to call 1-800-378-0445. Citizens who provide tips can remain anonymous. The Department of Financial Services to date has awarded almost $342,000 to more than 50 citizens as part of its Anti-Fraud Reward Program. The program rewards individuals up to $25,000 for information that directly leads to an arrest and conviction in an insurance fraud scheme.
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official, oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government; reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses and providing transparency and accountability in state spending.