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CFO Jimmy Patronis: If You Commit Insurance Fraud after a Hurricane, You Will be Arrested

Tallahassee, Fla. – Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis announced the arrest of Carlos Guillermo Aponte, 44, of Palmetto Bay for three counts of insurance fraud and grand theft to defraud Citizens Property Insurance Corporation of more than $30,000 relating to Hurricane Irma. Formed in the wake of Hurricane Irma, CFO Patronis’ Disaster Fraud Action Strike Team (DFAST) deployed boots on the ground to combat insurance fraud and educate consumers on what to look out for after a storm.
CFO Jimmy Patronis said, “Often times disasters bring out the best in people, but unfortunately, it also brings out the worst in some. Insurance fraud is not a victimless crime and is the main cause that drives up insurance rates. Just this summer, Citizens Property Insurance Corporation cited fraud and litigation costs as the main reason for a proposed rate increase.
“I created the Disaster Fraud Action Strike Team after Irma to combat insurance fraud and since then, this team has worked diligently so that we can help ensure your insurance rates are affordable. As we’ve seen with Hurricane Florence, this hurricane season is far from over and we must stay on guard to fight fraud before and after a storm.”
CFO Patronis’ DFAST received a tip after Aponte filed two claims alleging additional damages and loss of rent on his property as a result of Hurricane Irma. The investigation revealed Aponte submitted fraudulent invoices and false rental agreements along with fraudulent letters claiming loss of rent for four months totaling $30,580.
Aponte was arrested September 14 and transported to a Miami-Dade jail. If convicted on all charges, Aponte could face up to 45 years in prison and up to $45,000 in fines.
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